One Thing at a Time

Its somewhat annoying to me when people say they can multi-task, that is do more than 1 thing at a time, sometimes 2 or 3. They really arent. They are actually switching their attention rapidly from 1 task to another, so rapidly, that they think they are doing 2 or 3 things at once. What winds up happening is that their attention is never fully on any of those tasks. This post is not meant to be about texting and driving, as you might have thought, but about how our culture has demanded that we constantly multi-task.

Lets start with our phones. Not only do our telephones do so much more than make phone calls, so much more that people hardly ever use their phones for actually speaking to someone, but they allow us to communicate, albeit ineffectively, with more than 1 person at a time. First, there was call waiting and then conference calling, but now, you can be speaking with someone and have another person barge right in with a text message. Can you read your text message and still hold up your end of a conversation. You might think so, but I would disagree. Back in the dark ages when I was growing up, if you got a busy signal, (Yes children, it was a sound you heard when the person you were calling was already on the phone.) you had to call back later. Answering machines werent even invented yet.

When we watched television, back in the day before it was called TV, we all watched the same show, at the same time, in the same room. Imagine that. Not only that, but we also had to watch it at the time it was broadcast, complete with commercials. Commercials were invented, so you had time to go to the bathroom or get a dish of ice cream. You didnt wear the TV show as you went about the house, including the bathroom. And dont even get me started about taking the phone into the bathroom with you.

I can remember a time when you sat at the table to eat your food. Popcorn could be eaten in the back seat of the car on long trips, but meals were not gobbled with one hand while the other hand juggled a cell phone and a cup of coffee. Maybe this post is about texting and driving after all. I know someone who actually used to read books while she drove home from work every night, and Im not talking about audio books.

Are we so pressed for time that were afraid we wont get everything done that we think we have to do each minute of the day? I believe in making the most out of each day, but I also believe in giving each task the attention it deserves. Whether its eating a meal, talking to a friend, or yes, driving a car, lets just do one thing at a time, so each thing gets done, completely, in time.


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