Single- or Multi-Tasking?

I’ve noticed that my attention span seems to be decreasing.  Even when I’m reading a book, I can’t help but keep my phone nearby “just in case” I get an important text message, e-mail, etc.  Let’s be real – I don’t have anything that urgent I need to check on where I can’t set aside a solid half hour or more to immerse myself in a book.  However, I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve really lost focus lately – even with a good book!  :-/

I’m not going to point my finger at technology, as I am definitely a user and consumer of technology and love many of its efficiencies and benefits.  However, if I take a step back, I wonder whether I always need to be “connected” and whether I am really more efficient when I am multi-tasking and checking e-mail, listening to a podcast, and bouncing back and forth with text messages at the same time.  Probably not…  It got me thinking about single-taking versus multi-tasking.  It seems like there quite a few thoughts and articles on this topic as of late, and I keep hearing the benefits of taking time to single-task, which creates more mindfulness and awareness.

In a society where we are “on” 24×7, I think it really becomes challenging and more of an effort to single-task and focus on one thing.  Given my recent lack of focus, I am going to challenge myself to single-tasking and try to be more present and “in the moment” which each thing I do, whether it be the mundane like folding laundry to the more important things like a chat over coffee with a friend, or when escaping in a good book.  Anyone else out there encountering similar challenges?

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Tech Fast

I have previously confessed to having a love/hate relationship with technology.  I was recently lamenting to a friend about how poor my penmanship is, which lead to a conversation about how much we rely on computers and other technology to communicate.  It got me thinking – what did we used to do before e-mail??  I remember writing hand-written (long!) letters to friends when I was in school, which seems so long ago. I love the advantages that technology provides for writing – who doesn’t love being able to make quick edits and spell check?  As as result of sitting in from a computer for so many hours between work and at home, I have noticed that I now find it easier to sit and write staring at a blank Word document, similar to what would have been holding my trusty pen and staring at a blank sheet of paper in the past.  I find that I capture different thoughts quickly with my fingers flying across the keyboard, which I love.  At the same time, it makes me a little sad to look at all of the blank books and journals I have sitting on my shelf, which I use, but not nearly as much as I used to.  I also notice that when I write for longer periods of time, I get some hand cramps and my so-so penmanship starts to look like scribbles since my hand is no longer used to writing with a pen or pencil anymore. Sigh.

As someone who benefits from–and is a high user of–the different technology that is now available, I think I need to embrace all that is available.  However, I don’t want to forget my past.  I still have some old journals that are filled with poetry, ideas and clippings.  In honor of this, I am going to find one day this month where I am going to go on a “tech fast”.  With the exception of work, I am going to attempt to enjoy the simple things in life, like dusting off one of my beautiful journals and embracing my poor penmanship.

Anyone else who feels a little overwhelmed at times with all of the technology and/or misses the “old days” of pens and paper?

Unplug, Disconnect, Pause, Repeat

Technology – I have a love/hate relationship with it.  On the one hand, it makes me much more efficient (such as researching and using online resources) and I can “connect”, albeit virtually, to many people (via email, blogs and online communities).  Technology provides a great way to extend your reach, whether it be people, information or resources.  For a multi-tasking person like myself, technology can also be my downfall.  I, like many others, find myself guilty of constantly checking emails and text messages – really, I am not that important that I need to be checking in all the time!  In the age of being accessible 24×7, I think that at times, technology as served as more of a distraction than a resource for myself.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I really want to focus more on being present.  I need to make more of a conscious effort to disconnect and recharge (my mind and not my phone!) and find a better balance, including when it comes to being connected at work.  I can’t imagine not being able to check it at work at any time of day and check emails.  I think it makes me more efficient and also more manageable to catch up after being out of the office.  And to be honest, the thought of not checking in stresses me out a bit as I think of all of the emails piling up in my Inbox.  However, I do have to instill some guidelines or more conscious practices for checking in when I am out of the office.  I think I have made some good strides in this area, but need to continue to focus on enjoying my time when I am out of the office rather than worrying about what I will need to do when I return.

Anyone else who faces similar technology “challenges”?   If so, any tips on how you manage to find a good balance?