Friday, November 16, 2012

Achieving Peace by Avoiding Multitasking

We are all guilty of it by force and "necessity". Most of us do it from the moment we wake up to the time we go to bed at night…iPad, iPhone, laptop and remote control in hand. The nasty culprit…Multitasking. Just the other day I found myself actually bragging to a co-worker about my unparalleled ability to “successfully” multitask, sharing a story from the previous night about applying to FEMA for hurricane reimbursement while watching Homeland. Now that I put that sentence into writing, the realization of its absurdity has slapped me across the face. Mixing an activity intended for escape and relaxation with a crucial financial matter that so clearly mandated my full attention … what was I thinking? The answer: I wasn't.
In that moment of multitasking, it seems inevitable. Most of us are living day to day under the self-imposed pretense that each and every task we have on our plate must get accomplished immediately, regardless of the context in which it does so. This manmade mindset is not simply an irritating one but a dangerous one as well. The very idea that crushing two, three or even four activities into the same headspace could be remotely productive is inherently incongruous. By definition, performing an activity requires dedicated thought, and when our brains are unnaturally forced to staccato between multiple disparate realms, it is not only fertile ground for human error but also for inducing unimaginable stress. Why can’t I focus? Damn, what was that budget? Where are my keys, I just had them? What did my client tell me not to forget? What did Brody just say to Carrie? These things seem nearly impossible to forget, and when we cannot remember them, we turn disillusioned and upset. 
I am not one to sit on my moral high horse suggesting we all completely cease listening to our favorite playlist while we commute, read a magazine or talk to our spouse. I am, however, suggesting that one solution to finding peace is, to the best of our ability, minimizing multitasking. The day when we can sit at a table having a conversation without looking at a phone, balance a budget without simultaneously social networking, get through an hour’s work in one our instead of than three…that is the day I believe we will inch just a little bit closer to attaining our own personal peace.

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