Balanced Tasking

26 Oct

This week, we were asked to watch and reflect upon this video regarding our societal focus and thus arising issues surrounding multi-tasking. As someone who has always considered myself a master multi-tasker…

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Image found HERE.

…I found myself taking a step back to truly think about my own productivity, and how the internet and all of its’ distractions has affected what I am able to accomplish in my work and personal life.

I thought about taking a picture of my current internet browser, my computer  desktop, and even my physical desk at work to show the chaos that I live most of my time in. I’m going to save myself the embarrassment from photo evidence, but share that I have many tabs open in my internet browser, 10-15 Microsoft word documents and PDF files on my computer and sticky notes clutter my desktop with various to-do list items. Not to mention the stacks of marking, paper to-do lists, and I don’t even know how I accumulate half of the other piles of paper. But what I know would be an organizational nightmare for others… seemingly doesn’t bother me. I never lose anything (somehow), and it all gets done. But am I actually productive, or wasting time?

Between being a busy teacher, grad student, basketball coach, and trying to fit in a workout or hangout with friends, time is a valuable commodity to me. I often try to be schedule my time efficiently – thus I am always multi-tasking, as I feel like I am “getting more done.” Kyla shared this article on Twitter, which specifically discussed a part of multi-tasking called context switching, which is switching between unrelated tasks. I am super guilty of this! Not only will I be switching from different tasks on my computer, but I will be doing something completely different on my phone at the same time. As it turns out, I am probably getting even less done because of this.

I constantly have my work email open on my computer, and when I am doing other tasks unrelated to work – say writing this blog post – and I receive an email, I instantly stop writing this blog and feel the need to check it and/or respond. One of the suggestions from the article involved having a designated time to check email instead of constantly, which is something I could easily try, especially as I am focusing on one specific task like writing a blog post. I have the same problem with checking my phone if I hear it go off or vibrate, so I have honestly forced myself to leave my phone in another room at times when I feel myself struggling to concentrate on a particular task.

Although I can put my phone away for an hour or two, one thing I can’t really change is the constant replaying of tasks to complete or things coming up that plays on a loop in my head. Even if I want to escape multi-tasking, I am not sure without some significant work I can really turn this off. I really like in the video when he says that “tabs are a metaphor for life“, and that if we could just be completely present at anything in our life, perhaps we would be better at that thing. There are more and more emerging ideas and tips to improve our mindfulness, and being present are areas we must focus on in regards to our personal wellness and mental health.

When I think of mental health, and how it ties to multi-tasking, I can’t help but think of digital distraction. We spend countless hours on our phones, and I know for myself especially, I can be sucked into the vortex of time-wasting and endless scrolling. I don’t think that is a reason to throw our phones away or delete our social media (although taking a break can be healthy and needed). I think we need to focus more explicitly on digital health and wellness. There are many places we can start, and following the advice of the digital resolutions in this article, some of the things I have done include turning off notifications for various apps like Instagram and Facebook, and taking a closer look at managing my time. I love that Apple has many ways we can do this and keep incorporating more features into their new operating systems.

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I think being aware and reflecting on our current practice is a great place to start in terms of breaking free of multi-tasking overload. If I am able to make some even small changes that keep my focused on a specific task, and perhaps see my productivity increase, I think it could continue to make these changes and/or shift my mindset. Although, one of the things I enjoy most about blogging is the social writing aspect. I love that I get to read what other people write, and that I can comment, pingback, and build off their ideas. When I blog I always have Twitter, our EC&I 833 blog hub, our weekly plans from Alec, giphy, and usually multiple other tabs with links to other articles as well. This is what helps inspire me, and makes the process enjoyable – and also clearly involves multi-tasking to some degree. Maybe there is a balance between single and multi-tasking that can be reached to harness peak productivity. Could balanced-tasking be even better than single or multi-tasking?

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