Thursday, November 10, 2016

One at a Time

On the his first episode on M*A*S*H, Major Charles Emerson Winchester III pompously intones, "I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then I move on."
It turns out, the fathead was right. If I supposedly "multi-task," incompetency reigns. 

I can't listen to a shiur and surf Facebook. I can't text and maintain a conversation. Preparing too many dishes at one time rarely ends well. 

There are many who claim they can multi-task. Note that they claim. Try reading this story without distraction. Can you? Will you recall what you have read? Will you have processed it?
Earlier research out of Stanford revealed that self-identified “high media multitaskers” are actually more easily distracted than those who limit their time toggling.
So, in layman’s terms, by doing more you’re getting less done.
Perhaps you are familiar with the person who is always busy, yet doesn't seem to accomplish anything? 
But monotasking, also referred to as single-tasking or unitasking, isn’t just about getting things done.
Not the same as mindfulness, which focuses on emotional awareness, monotasking is a 21st-century term for what your high school English teacher probably just called “paying attention.”
I have learned, at my work, to complete each task one by one. Then I don't come back, spend a minute remembering where I left off, then forget that one vital action necessary to prevent my having to start it all over again. 
As much as people would like to believe otherwise, humans have finite neural resources that are depleted every time we switch between tasks, which, especially for those who work online, Ms. Zomorodi said, can happen upward of 400 times a day, according to a 2016 University of California, Irvine study. “That’s why you feel tired at the end of the day,” she said. “You’ve used them all up.”
The term “brain dead” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.
Multi-tasking is not productive at all, because not only are the jobs not done right, one is rendered unproductive in the process. 

There is pleasant satisfaction in a job well done and complete, von Pfetten writes. That reminded me of the "debt snowball method," paying off the smallest debt first even though that seems contradictory to financial savvy. When those in hock are able to cross off an item from their list, they tend to be so galvanized by that signal of progress that they throw themselves wholeheartedly into further headway. 

Kids, of course, tend to interrupt mono-tasking. In cases where tackling one job at a time is difficult, just try to do it whenever possible, like reading offspring a book while the phone is elsewhere, the article recommends. 
“Practice how you listen to people,” Ms. McGonigal said. “Put down anything that’s in your hands and turn all of your attentional channels to the person who is talking. You should be looking at them, listening to them, and your body should be turned to them. If you want to see a benefit from monotasking, if you want to have any kind of social rapport or influence on someone, that’s the place to start. That’s where you’ll see the biggest payoff.” 

1 comment:

Daniel Saunders said...

Completely agree. I think I've shared before the line from the British sitcom Outnumbered: "Multi-tasking is multi-failing!"