Single-Tasking in a Multi-tasking Generation

October 19, 2018

“Single-tasking is the new Multi-tasking” was discussing how people are distracted by all the tasks that they have to do that they are not actually able to focus because more than one activity would cause your focus to be split and not as good as focus on one thing. Even as I type this, my husband has a video game playing on the TV in the room I am doing my work, which is distracting me. The baby monitor changes between my toddler’s room and my ten-month-old’s room and I glance at it every now and again just to make sure everyone is alright. I glance over at the cell phone that is placed at my right because it just buzzed an update on Pinterest or a new email from work (even though I am currently on mat leave I am still interrupted by work emails). And finally, the computer that I am typing this blog on has about ten different windows open on the internet, 2 power points and three Word documents (which I learned from this weeks presentations inECI833  is a productivity suite) that I switch between because I am currently working on two grad classes and their multiple .

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And this is only during the evening. The daily tasks tend to have at least five things going on at once in order to get them all done. I find that like the man in the video, I don’t really remember when I was only doing one task. I’ll start with one and then when researching I will get distracted by an article that will lead me off task. Or a buzz on my phone for Facebook or Twitter will pop up and then I will get sucked into that. Fortunately, deadlines keep me somewhat focused, and even though I will finish my work, I will have probably finished and/or started at least three other things in the process.

The internet has caused our society to be less one-track minded to multi-track minded. As Adam mentions in his post we have become “zombified” by are constant needs to be on our phones, even in the middle of conversations with other people. As Adam mentioned, I too feel like a nuisance when others are checking their phones while taking to me, like I am interrupting something important that they need to attend to instead of focusing on my company and conversation. The internet can be a great cause for distraction for people. It’s become the social norm to be doing something else while you are with someone in person. We are losing the social graces of giving our undivided attention to speakers and being present in the moment. As soon as our brains tend to tune out, we pop out our phones and distract ourselves or entertain ourselves. This inability to focus on one thing also causes the inability for most children to know what being bored feels like. They need the constant stimulation. Many adults are doing this as well. It’s almost as if we are afraid to just sit still and think or do nothing, or we don’t know how to create our own entertainment or to just be.

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But I also feel like even though the internet’s distractions can place us off task, like Scott mentions in his post, I too believe it is a productivity tool. The internet has allowed me to take part in a grad class without ever leaving my house. I didn’t need to buy a textbook because all of the readings are online. I also do all of my assignment using the assistance of the internet; for twitter, this blog, and more. I also use the internet for my other grad class. One of the textbooks was not available in print because it was back ordered, but I was able to buy the digital version and download it to my computer. So, the productivity of the internet has allowed me to do all these things even though there still is the potential for distractions. I think that just means that I need to be more self-disciplined when I find myself going off task.

I feel like life comes with all different types of distractions, whether they exist through the internet and other devices or even if they just include a screaming toddler who is chasing after the toy poodle while the baby bangs the pans on the floor after he just emptied the cupboard (yes this happened).

Ollie

(This is the toy poodle, notice the distraction?!)

It’s up to us to use tools like the internet for what we need it to be. The single-tasking can occur if we shut down notifications temporarily or try to stick to one task all the way through. We need to be able to teach our children and students the importance of focus and how to avoid the distractions that would otherwise interrupt our work and life. In this fast-paced world where so many things happen all at once, learning to do one thing at a time could end up being not only productive but better for us in the long term.

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