Working Hard or Hardly Working

@September 29th, 2011


After stumbling upon the brilliance of Trent Walton’s Unitasking , I felt compelled to stir up my own discourse on the notion. On a day to day basis, we as individuals engage in more than a few activities. More often than not, we engage in these activities simultaneously. We congratulate ourselves for having the ability to drive to work whilst eating a McDonald’s egg sandwich, smoke a cigarette, talk to our mother, and shave (yes, I have indeed seen this and I can’t tell you how nervous it makes me).

It should not be a surprise that this compulsion to multi-task bleeds into our work lives as well. I work in the web design industry, which means that I sit on my rear all day staring at a computer. Though I engage in sedentary work, my mind, mouth, and hands are anything but. Juggling emails, phone calls, notes to myself, content writing, and project management leaves me feeling like an unfortunate opponent of Muhammad Ali after an 8-hour workday. I kid you not. Multi-tasking is exhausting and, further, is it truly effective?

This notion of multi-tasking got me thinking further in depth. Gazing at the 15 open windows of my Google Chrome, email inbox, Skype box, various Gdocs, Excel Spreadsheets, and cell phone, I thought, “Look at all of this digital media!”

My workspace resembled a war zone of digital gadgets, wireless knick-knacks, and media devices. Did I even need all of these?

Digital Media: The Cause or the Solution?
The advent of these various devices were intended to “make life easier.” However, they often make us want to pull the hair out of our heads one by one. How did work stop getting done with more opportunity to actually …. get work done?

Social media and various other digital media play a large role in this. It is hard to say whether the concept of multi-tasking stems from our personal lives or work lives, but the availability of media allows us to jump to and fro’. Why would I chat with my in person, when I can download music for my iPod, “stalk” on Facebook, and plays with my apps all on one device?

The iPhone that I hold in my hand is supposed to make things easier, more accessible, faster, and smarter. All of the applications and platforms within this one device certainly account for convenience and innovation. Yet, at the end of the day, all of these options bombard our senses into a comatose delirium. In essence, not much gets accomplished.

I referred back to Trent Walton’s Unitasking .

We don’t focus anymore on one thing!! It’s really simple, folks. Pick one thing and go with it. If we can find a way to divorce ourselves momentarily from various digital media, we might be able to get things done. Let the temptation to check your inbox 5,000 times in one half hour not get the best of you!

Trent touches on the notion of clutter removal from the workspace and I suggest you give it a shot! It’s quite liberating.

Remove any allowance for notifications that might pop up on your screens, close out any unnecessary windows (ahem, your Facebook!), and focus on the task at hand.

This “spring cleaning,” as it were can truly have a noticeable impact on a single day’s work. And, it might just bleed into your personal life as well!