This one thing

One of the most important resources we have is our time. It is not something we can keep for future use, or something we can redo when we make a mistake. What keeps our attention takes our time. In an Entrepreneur magazine article entitled “Climbing out of the Inbox”, Joe Robinson wrote about how the workplace concentration of employees decreases as e-mail alerts continually distracted them and instant messages kept them focused on something other than their work, add up the buzzing Blackberrys and frequently ringing cell phones. Interruptions that are most attributable to e-mail overload take the attention of employees and increase their level of stress while decreasing the level of job satisfaction.

The article also highlighted that multitasking is a myth. David Meyer, cited by Robinson in the article, stated that quality work does not follow multitasking. We may be able to sing while taking a shower, but doing two or more tasks using the same cognitive channels does not benefit us at all. It will just take more time to produce work that might not be high quality at all. We tend to make more mistakes and get burned out fast.

I remember stories of people who have opened Internet tabs one by one only to find out at the end that they fell short of their To-Do lists. Or how a thousand times distracting Facebook was. Or how YouTube ate up most of the time for research. And many more.

But what about people who claim to be experts in multitasking? What about people who cannot–or can never–get a paper done by just sitting with a paper and a pen in front of them? By the way, we are the Net generation. The Internet is integrated in almost anything we do almost anytime of the day. This is one of those advantages the Internet is offering us–being able to do many things at the same time.

For me, it’s not about the number of tasks we do at the same time. As one quote says, “Balancing so much needs focus.” It’s not that we need to focus on one single thing. I think it’s more on giving focus on what you do, whether it be one major thing or a handful.  I know people who handled weekly small groups and managed to graduate cum laude. I know active organization officers who got to maintain nurturing family relationships. And there are a lot more combinations, depending on what the priorities are.

Priorities. It’s all about knowing what or who they are, and focusing on them. Too much will be enough for clutter and confusion. Rather, opt to eliminate what is unnecessary and fix our eyes on what matters most. I do not say we remove all means of entertainment and get serious with our matters of “life and death” all of the time. No one could sanely endure doing so. We could check Facebook for a while; chat with friends from time to time; spend time with pictures; download videos; read, and so on. But I think Winifred Gallagher said it right in his book Rapt: we are the sum of what we pay attention to.

What we focus on determines our fulfillment.

——

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is  behind and straining toward what is ahead.”     Philippians 3:13b

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11 thoughts on “This one thing

  1. I don’t agree that multi-tasking is a myth. There are really some people who work best when they do multiple things instead of just one.

    I think you are right in saying that being the Net generation, we are trained to be multi-taskers. The thing to remember here is to mind the things that we are multi-tasking. Doing homework will most probably not get the best results. But if it is typing your report as you research it, or something, then that is quite plausible.

    Me, I eat while reading and talking. 😀

    1. Yes, we are trained to be multitaskers, and we better be good at it. There really are things we can do while doing something else, while VERY important matters have to be dealt with singly.

      Well, I cannot claim that I can read well enough while talking, but I love conversations over food. 🙂

  2. Actually, I am not good in multitasking. I prefer doing one thing at a time. But multitasking is something I need to learn and love because it will soon be one of the things that will help me survive. I believe passion is what makes the difference. Others can so much and still be excellent simply because of what drives them.

    I agree that time is very important. Unfortunately, many only realize this fact after time has been wasted for less important things. We can be on facebook and still be spending time wisely. I do that by visiting others’ accounts and checking on people to see how they’re doing. I might just know something about them I can do something about.

    1. Your right, Kimmy. You can add more value to your time by doing the most that you can with it. If you can do something with less time or do things at the same time excellently, then do so. Remember, time is not a resource we can take back or store for future use. It just keeps on flowing.

      I know you can be an adept multitasker. aja! 😀

  3. It all depends on the person.

    I know someone who finds it even harder to work if she tries to do things one at a time. She can’t stop thinking about the other stuff she has on her to do list, and the more she can’t focus.

    I, however, am not good at multitasking. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about two important things like my thesis and a blog for OC 152. Or if we’re talking about something “shallow” like Facebook together with thesis. Whatever those tabs are about, my tendency is to focus on one page. When I’m done, I close my computer and then realize I forgot to do the other thing.

    People are very different from each other and we can’t make generalizations like “women are good multitaskers while men can only do things one at a time.”

    This, I think, is one challenge for companies– to know what would work best for their employees. Facebook: To ban or not to ban? 🙂

    1. sandz! 🙂
      Yes, your comment simply highlights the fact that despite being called collectively as the Net Generation, we are different individuals altogether, with different needs, different perceptions, and different ways of doing things. This is the challenge we, Orcom people, must be able to address as we face opportunities in dealing with diverse groups composed of people from across the globe. 🙂

  4. Multitasking is a myth??? Then, what do you call my way of doing things? haha 😛 I still believe in multitasking, for me it’s maximizing your time to do things that CAN be done at the same time. The many things in ‘multi” tasking are stuff that are related to one another that can be done faster by doing them at the same time. Err, am I making a sense here? haha Well that is just my point of view. 😉 The Internet, considering the wide array of options it is offering to us, has very much to do with this multitasking phenomenon. 🙂

    Hi keren! 🙂

    1. Patty. 🙂
      We are living proofs that multitasking is not a myth–at least as long as multitasking here is defined as doing things that CAN be done at the same time. I suggest you keep on maximizing your time and using it for things that will last forever, because it indeed is precious. 🙂

  5. Hi Keren! Let me just say that this is a heart-enriching post. I sooo love it. Good job! 

    While I was reading this, I was thinking of that quote on a paper inserted in my Bible: “The great challenge in life is to determine what is most important and disregard everything else.” Now this is pretty difficult. Given all the distractions in the world, even amplified by the ever-enticing offers of the Internet, where do we spend our time then? You’re right about “people who have opened Internet tabs one by one only to find out at the end that they fell short of their To-Do lists”, (and I’m afraid this includes me.)

    The NetGen may be admired for being a generation of super communicators—a group of people who has all the tools and means to communicate in any place at any time. But it is also the most impatient and distracted generation—one whose hands are on almost everything, whose minds are mostly unfocused, whose attention is greatly undivided.

    And we are part of the NetGen. It is up to us to monitor and consider how we use the Internet, how we manage our time, and how we set priorities. At the end of the day, it is still us who make our choices. The Internet and the world just offer options (or should we say, distractions).

    1. anne! 🙂
      thanks for the comment. 🙂

      This is a challenge the NetGen has to face: to use the Internet efficiently in order to accomplish our priorities and more, exceeding past accomplishments and moving the boundary lines farther.

      For sure Orcom students (avant garde in that case) will do the job well. 😀

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