I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything.. at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.
I see kids all the time texting or using a computer handheld at the same time they are listening to something of importance. I often have television going while I think I am effectively reading a newspaper or a book. I also see all kinds of folks in their cars driving and talking on the phone at the same time. These days we call it multitasking, and unfortunately too many of us think we do it well and that it improves our efficiency when test after test proves the opposite.
The other day I realized that a byproduct of my multitasking behavior has been difficulty in sustaining effective concentration. It is an almost Pavlovian response that when I am home these days with many things I want to do I end up trying to do at least two simultaneously and that my friends is dumb. I am pretty sure the reason that I enjoy being very early for meetings is that I use the waiting time for quality contemplation and reading.
Here are excerpts from a recent article by JoAnne Ceccarelli-Egan that I feel are on target:
Could Multitasking be a hindrance to you?
In an effort to keep stress contained, you get busier and your body learns to function in 5th gear and finds it difficult to slow down, relax and even sleep. Studies have shown that multitasking actually diminishes the effectiveness of performing tasks, increasing stress and activating the fight/flight response. Constant multitasking has been found to actually diminish brain function and kills brain cells. (David Meyer, Univ. of Michigan Study).
Is Multitasking the reality of your life? Are you caught in a cycle that is hard to break? What can you do about it? My first suggestion would be to become aware of it! When you are rushing, begin to distinguish when your life is full because that is your reality or if you are filling it up to distract yourself. If you are caught in the frenzy of multitasking, a good solution is to become conscious of what is happening at the specific time. It is helpful to be open to your thoughts and feelings and try not to evaluate or judge them. Begin to identify and label what is occurring and how you are feeling. For example, "I am thinking", "I am worrying", "I am feeling overwhelmed". You might also ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I need to be doing this right now?
2. What could I postpone for a later date or not do at all?
3. What is the worst that would happen if I do not do it?
4. Do I want to do this now? If not, when?
5. How much time do I want to spend on it?
6. What motivates my behavior?
7. What would I be doing if I was not busy right now?
What do you do if the demands of life are real and you do have a great deal of expectations and responsibility? Have you ever considered making time to take a half an hour lunch break and go for a walk? Could you take a half day one weekend a month and spend it the way you wish? Is that too much time for "you"?
Does your mind race and have you forgotten how to relax? Are you conscious of what is happening in your day and your reaction to the situation? Are you honest with yourself?
"Most of the time multitasking is an illusion. You think you are multitasking, but in reality you’re actually wasting time switching from one task to another."
Boco Tjan – Professor at University of Southern California.
Young Morris asked his father, "Dad, was Adam Jewish?"
His father put down his newspaper and thought for a moment. He was an expert at Talmudic reasoning and in the art of making a point by an unanswerable question.
He replied, "If we can determine that Eve was Jewish, my son, we would at once see that Adam was Jewish, for who but a Jew could bring himself to marry a Jewish girl?" (Here he turned his head a bit nervously to make sure his wife wasn’t listening.)
"Therefore, we can drop the Adam problem and instead ask ourselves, "Was Eve Jewish?"
"To answer that, we have only to ask the question, "Would anyone but a Jewish girl say, ‘Here, have a piece of fruit’?"
If Barbie’s so popular, why do you have to buy all her friends?
Young Larry stopped by the corner grocery store and read the following list to the clerk: 10 pounds sugar at $1.25 a pound 4 pounds coffee at $1.50 a pound 2 pounds butter at $1.10 a pound 2 bars soap at $.83 each
"How much does that come to?" asked Larry.
"Twenty-two dollars and thirty-six cents."
"If I gave you three ten dollar bills, how much change would I get?" said the boy.
"Seven dollars and sixty-four cents," stated the clerk who appeared to be irritated by all the questions. Larry said, as he disappeared through the door, "I don’t want to buy the item…that’s our arithmetic lesson for tomorrow, and I needed some help with it."
Some people hold the key to the situation, and then are too lazy to turn it.
A Texan farmer goes to Australia for a vacation. There he meets an Aussie farmer and gets talking. The Aussie shows off his big wheat field and the Texan says, "Oh! We have wheat fields that are at least twice as large".
Then they walk around the ranch a little, and the Aussie shows off his herd of cattle. The Texan immediately says, “We have longhorns that are at least twice as large as your cows". The conversation has, meanwhile, almost died when the Texan sees a herd of kangaroos hopping through the field. He asks, "And what are those"?
The Aussie replies with an incredulous look, "Don’t you have any grasshoppers in Texas"?
Diplomacy is the art of letting someone have your way.
An 85-year-old widow went on a blind date with a 90 year old man. When she returned to her daughters house later that night, she seemed upset. "What happened, Mother?" the daughter asked. "I had to slap his face three times!" "You mean he got fresh?" "No," she answered. "I thought he was dead!!!"
She said: My Dad had a sure way to keep my Mom from buying an outfit…
When she tries it on, he says, "I love that middle-aged look it gives you."
Tommy was sitting at the kitchen table eating his after school snack, when he blurted out, "Mom, the teacher was asking me today if I had any brothers or sisters who will be coming to school."
The boy’s mother replied, "That’s nice of her to take such an interest, dear. What did she say when you told her that you were the only child in our family?"
"She just said, ‘Thank Goodness!’"
Ballerinas are always on their toes. Why don’t they just get taller ballerinas?
My friend, the manager of a grocery store, nabbed a shoplifter in the act. He was escorting the suspect to the office in the front of the store (near the cash registers), when the shoplifter broke from his grip and tried to run. After a scuffle, my friend pinned him against the wall and looked up to see a number of surprised customers staring at him.
"Everything’s fine, Folks," he reassured them. "This guy just tried to go through the express line with more than ten items."
"We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck…But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness."
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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