“When we think we’re multitasking we’re actually multi-switching. That is what the brain is very good at doing – quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we’re being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality, we’re simply giving ourselves extra work.”Michael Harris
Michael Harris, bestselling and literary award Canadian author, perfectly sums up my thoughts about multi-tasking. Can I really multi-task? Yes, I can do many things at the same time. I was painting my nails while watching the assigned video, responding to text messaging, video chatting with my daughter in Montreal, noticing her dry skin and new shade of lip balm, sending snaps to my friend, and checking the mushroom soup recipe on my nutricook. The smell made me hungry! The list of things I was doing at the same time continued. However, was I accomplishing any of these tasks as it is supposed to be? Who was I kidding? I was less productive and a lot distracted when I was doing several things at the same time.
This week’s blog task requires us to think about the internet. Is it really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions? One of the biggest sources of distractions is digital. I had to shut the TV off while the PM Truss briefs about corporation tax cut. I just couldn’t focus. I also had to put away my phone which kept beeping every notification. I admit, I am distracted and less accomplished. Indeed, the Internet created a world of ‘multitaskers’ like me, who don’t accomplish as much as they could have without it!
In this video, titled “Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking, James Hamblin addresses the extent to which multi-tasking has become the new norm for work and suggests that we need to find better ways to focus on only one item at a time. He confessed that doing only thing on the internet is a rare thing. Like what I am trying to do right now! I am trying to write this blog post and submit it right away, but I get distracted with so many things I need to include in this post. I have several tabs open, like to cite a quotation, images for mushroom soup, several videos, tutorial on how to insert an image in my blog, google doc and google slides for my report, Facebook, BBC news, discord, MS PowerPoint, word, teams, calendar, etc. Thanks to last Tuesday’s presentation, I just signed up for PowToon!
How am I doing with writing this post you may ask? This task is taking way too long because of too many distractions. I also think I am turning into a Dory. These countless new apps supposed to help my work easier, more efficient, and prettier presentations. But I just couldn’t focus on single task and work on it until it is fully done. That’s a big issue! Am I the only one experiencing this? Not according to James Hamblin, Machael Harris, university students, parents, and everyone. Everybody is caught up in this intricate web of distractions!
As suggested by James Hamblin, I am trying to follow his tips on ways to focus on one thing at a time. He suggested that one should focus on one thing only. He calls it tabless Thursday. That is on Thursday, one can use the internet with one task only. Working on it until it’s totally done or closing it when it is no longer interesting. There is even an app for it called Tabless Thursday. The app offers organizing tasks and compartmentalizing work. This may sound exciting, but I am not going to sign up just yet until this blog post is done.
There are also few things that I do to help me focus and get things done. I focus on my mind, body, and soul. I practice some mindfulness exercises to help ease my thoughts. When I find myself antsy and distracted, close my laptop. I check if I need to eat, drink, or sleep first. I walk around and look at my plants, water them, and pick dry leaves and twigs. I also use my Tibetan singing bowl. It helps declutter my mind. I also go out for a walk to change my environment. Fortunately, I live close to the beach. Another helpful strategy is to plan and organize ahead. I use the Eisenhower Matrix to declutter my mind and organize and prioritize tasks. These can be done online or offline. It works for me!