Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MULTI-TASKING IS IMPOSSIBLE

While at the NYWC in LA, I heard a talk by Shane Hipps on the dangers of technology and the myth of technological advancements and the intention behind invention and the reality of our world and yeah... it really got me thinking.

So much so, that months later, I'm still thinking about it. It was really an interesting talk.

His talk was based on this book which I have not read. But in a nutshell however, he doesn't see technolgy as evil, but thinks we need to understand what we exchange when we embrace it.

All technology is a tool, but it also comes with a price tag. Consequently, some of the questions that this generation will have to ask are:

  • "What is the value of being literally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually fully present?"
  • Is there ever any need to travel to meet or do something face to face or can we actually live and do life together virtually? What is the cost of a facebook friendship maintenance plan?
  • Can someone attend church in their living room over the internet? Is there any need to physically be together?
But the thing he said that really got me thinking was that we think that technology allows us to do more than one thing at a time.... to multi-task. However, this is a myth. Literally, he said, the body cannot do two things at once. He said,

"There is no such thing as multi-tasking. It doesn't multiply anything, it only divides."

For example, if you take a glass of water and pour it into 4 glasses, you don't generate any new water, you just divide up the water you had. The same is true of "multi-tasking". You don't actually generate any new work or multiply energy, you just divide up your attention and lessen your influence.




So.... for me, this really jacked with me. For a long time, I've been saying that I need to try and "maximize the ministry of the moment." But this means to be fully present, I have to be fully present. It means:
  • I can't watch my kids game and answer the phone.
  • I can't surf the internet, and talk on instant message.
  • I can't text someone, and listen to the conversation before me.
  • I can't e-mail and blog and listen to music and watch the clock.
This seems to be very true when the task is very important... Like I know that big things require big attention and focus. But I think I'm only kidding myself if I think that less important tasks can be done all together. Maybe I'm just slowing all of my tasks down and reducing the influence and effectiveness of all that I'm doing when I do more than one thing at once (if that is not an oxymoron all by itself).

This messed with me because most people say they can do just that. But the longer I try it, the more I agree with Shane. If I really want my life to matter, then I need to fully devote myself to what I'm doing at that moment. If I'm preparing a sermon, I need to do that. If I'm writing e-mails, I need to do that. If I'm reading a book with my kids, I need to do that. I even wonder if having too many windows open on my computer screen is more of a distraction than not. Maybe I need to put a death bullet in the heart of the multi-tasking lie and just BE. Just do one thing. One at a time. Fully.

So... to that end, I'm trying to learn and relearn to be one dimensional. I'm trying to choose to fully ignore my cell in a meeting or when I'm in a conversation. I'm trying to only do one thing at a time. I'm trying to hold a conversation with my kid. I'm trying to work out. I'm trying to pay bills. I'm trying to do one thing at a time, one moment at a time, and line my day up with successive things, but not multiple things. Somedays I'm better at it than others. I failed in a meeting today, in a family event last week.... etc. But I'm working on it.

In the end, to see this happen it means saying no to the right stuff. It means saying yes to the right stuff. It means if I want to be successful and impactful and effective, then I need to put a dagger in the multi-tasking myth and call it what it is.... A LIE.

2 comments:

Noor 12:48 AM  

I absolutely love this article. Thank you!

Anonymous,  2:01 AM  

very good! used for a school project

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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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