Multi-tasking

My grandmother was a sophisticated lady who never walked anywhere; she always did a little run from place to place, up on the toes of her feminine pumps, hurrying, hurrying.  I wonder why.  It never got her anywhere.

So much of our culture emphasises hurrying, or multi-tasking, or saving time.  Business and technology are always obsessed with speed; millions are made with time-saving devices; multi-taskers are the respected workers.  It’s a bit suspect, don’t you think, that we’ve been introducing time-savers ever since Eisenhower, but no one feels any more ‘caught up’ today than we did in the 50s; rather less so. 

I’m a multi-tasker, I confess, but more by nature than intention.  I’m continuously seeking variety, not always to the benefit of the task at hand.  It’s really more important to me to learn how to focus with a single eye — and I’d venture to suggest that this would be a more rewarding practice for most people.  There are far too many distractions, and we Americans are collectively not noted for our thoroughness. 

Anyway, our technological advances since mid-last-century have drastically cut our work time on any given task.  Compare the time it took to produce one letter on a typewriter with carbon copies as compared to the few seconds it takes to shoot off an email.  If we were aiming, 60 years ago, to free up our time, we have certainly achieved that.  So why are we feeling far more pressed for it than ever?  I claim it’s a leftover ethic that we can now leave behind. 

If you’re continuously hassled by a need to multi-task, if you’re always in a hurry, consider that these feelings might stem from an outdated imperative.  Perhaps you would benefit by very methodically doing only one thing at a time, with total focus, finishing it before moving on to the next item on your list.  Can you get as much done, and are you any more proud of your work?  Most importantly, if you shun multi-tasking and hurrying, do you sleep more peacefully and love more generously?

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