06 June 2010


Last week someone tweeted a link to this article about giving up multitasking. I have been thinking a lot lately about how to maintain focus (or 'flow') better at work, and how to lower my overall stress level, too. This piece is not only about both obviously distracting multitasking (reading emails while on the phone) but less obvious cases like thinking about work while talking to your kids. It didn't reveal much that I didn't already know, but the author nicely summarized his experience in giving up multitasking with six observations which all resonated with me (see the article for full exposition):
  1. He was better able to enjoy the good things in life.
  2. He made more progress on challenging projects.
  3. He was less stressed.
  4. He lost patience for activities which were a waste of his time.
  5. He gained patience for worthwhile activities.
  6. He lost no productivity by eliminating multitasking.
Reading it made me realize how much of the day I spend with random thoughts and distractions buzzing around in my head (again in addition to more obvious things like frequently checking email on my phone). There's a whole change of attitude possible here: take each moment and just do whatever you're doing in that moment. Today I stopped to listen to a thunderstorm, and was tempted to check mail while I was standing there, but I consciously resisted and kept with just one simple thing: listening. It may sound fruity, but it's a lot less stressful.


Scott said...

I hear ye.

Some of my technology-related lifestyle choices (some of which seem weird by today's standards) have made changes to social norms frustratingly apparent. Take, for example, the fact that I do almost all of my long-distance calling from a hard-wired telephone. The cord is short enough that I can't really do anything else during the call. (Actually, I can reach my computer, but the keyboard is loud enough to be heard over the phone.)

I don't have actual statistics on this, but I think about 70% of the time, the other party is driving a car. I try not to mind--I tend to ignore the phone when I am engaged in something interesting, and this makes me difficult to reach. I gaze out the window, sometimes twirling the coily handset cord in my fingers, when traffic conditions merit an interruption in the narrative. And I understand when it's time to hang up because they have arrived at their destination.

I'm not bitter. I'm as guilty as anyone of being infinitely distracted by the vast noise source that is the Web. How does one reprogram the mind to stop checking the news multiple times a day? I don't remember doing that ten years ago.

Foonyor said...

Yeah, it wasn't so long ago that people listened to or watched the news once a day, at some fixed time (say, 6PM). Do we really gain that much by knowing within 10 minutes of every major event in the world?

MRhé said...

"Some of my technology-related lifestyle choices (some of which seem weird by today's standards)"

Currently in the running for Most Understated World-wide..