Monday, August 08, 2005



i've been having a marvelous summer, it's been relaxing, playful and has had the feeling of being like one long vacation. that's not to say that i haven't been doing a lot. i have, but i've been making a concerted effort to do it differently. one of the key things i've been doing differently is to focus on what a friend of mine recently referred to as singletasking.

that's right singletasking the antithesis of multitasking - to do only one thing at a time. in many ways i think making a decision to do just one thing at a time is a revolution in our current culture. we are so pushed to multitask, to do everything in combination with something else, that we rarely have the opportunity to experience what it's like to just revel in doing one thing only.

as an article in the pittsburgh post-gazette discussed today, people are feeling more and more pressure to multitask:

"It seems like the world is so fast-paced that if you don't multitask, you fall behind," said Michael Cooney, 27, a bank employee from Forest Hills who watches TV while paying bills, works on a computer while on the phone and eats dinner reading. "I seem to make it through life OK that way."

the article goes on to say:

Some people's jobs require mental juggling, but so many of us multitask when we don't have to. It's just too compelling.
David Levy, a professor in the information school at the University of Washington, says the rush of information and the speed it has fueled was addictive: "We jump on our cell phones when they ring. And why am I checking my e-mail all the time? Because there could be something wonderful. These things point to very deep-rooted needs in us."
But at what cost? he asks: "It seems we're losing the capacity for that slow, concentrated attending to things."

slowing down enough to do just one thing at a time opens us up to a whole new way of being in the world. we are able to fully take in what is happening around us and inside of us. after all, when was the last time you had a burst of inspiration while you were eating dinner, paying your bills and talking to your mom on the phone simultaneously - highly unlikely to say the least.

how would your life be different if you decided to focus on singletasking?

try it out - even for one day. and as always feel free to post your reflections on the experience here.

dream big,

I love this. I think we do need to slow down and focus on doing fewer things well (or, at least, enjoying them more). Men, in particular, pay a high cost in effectiveness by trying to multitask when it isn't necessary. I believe we would find we have much more time because things would get done and STAY done if we'd singletask with greater frequency.
There's a lot of truth to this. I find that if I consciously tell myself that I'm going to work on one thing at a time (even if I have many things on my list) until it's done I am more relaxed, feel better, and do greater work.

It's tough to concentrate on a single task because our culture today seems to prize the multitasker (what job interview DOESN'T include the question, "How well do you multitask"?), so we feel like we have to do that in order to keep up.

Singletasking though, at least for me, keeps me ahead of the game.
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