The Focus

Singular focus. Clearly something of value. While I (along with many of you, I suspect) fancy myself as a multitasker (and few would argue with this self-distinction), I also find that while some tasks truly do require and benefit from multitasking, many do not. The key, it seems, is figuring out when to turn off the multitasking behaviour you’ve gotten so very proficient employing. Multitasking started for me in college. It really wasn’t something I wanted to do, but really something I had to. It turned out that college is a busy place. Not only is it a place where you take classes, do homework, and learn in a traditional setting, but you also juggle extracurricular activities, new friendships, and the (perhaps new) struggle/blessing of a roommate(s). I learned to multitask when it was assumed I could do homework while roommates were watching television, playing games, playing music, etc. and expecting feedback, support, etc. for their efforts. They were, after all deserving. This was bad multitasking, but it started me on my way.

Good multitasking came later when I was tasked with searching for obscure information on the web and turning it into something meaningful like a presentation, paper, artwork, or song as part of a class project. This is where multitasking was helpful. Many tabs, many screens, many desktops and many ongoing interruptions from peers via chat or physically in the room. Multitasking was helpful and I got very good at it. I got so good, in fact, that my peers no longer understand what I’m doing on the computer. When they look over my shoulder their heads spin while their eyes try to follow the pointer I’m not using. They literally have no idea what I’m doing, but I always get it done. But having this skill made it difficult to willingly give it up, or even temporarily suspend it. How do you suspend multitasking when you don’t need it? More next time.

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