Everyone is multi-tasking these days. They are tethered to their “Crackberries,” iPhones, iPads, smart phones and computers, so they are sending eMails at all hours. Even when they are supposed to be “at leisure,” they are mailing and texting during meals at restaurants, movies, baseball games, family outings, while driving, during classroom lectures, in the bathroom (both public and private), and in some cases, even during sex.
Years ago, there was a promise that technology would make us more productive. There are some ways in which it has made us more productive — I can edit this article without having to type it over from scratch, as I would have done before word processing programs existed. I can sell my domain names to people halfway around the world by using the internet, eMail and PayPal.
But there is a dark side — technology has enabled “spammers” to fill our in boxes with masses of junk. In some cases, the junk mail is so overwhelming that it causes people to lose their important messages among the spam.
Technology promised to give us more leisure time, as well. Presumably, the more leisure time was a result of having gotten all of our work done earlier than before. However — studies have shown that people (who are fortunate enough to have a job these days) are working more hours than ever. Obviously, in the workplace, one must do the bidding and put out all the little “fires” that the employer commands. But it is well documented that people end up doing a lot of things poorly when required to multi-task all the time. The human brain is not structured for it.
Yesterday, I saw a woman walking through a traffic-filled parking lot into a store. She had a baby cradled in her right arm, a toddler by the hand with her left arm, and her neck was bent to hold the cell phone between her ear and shoulder so she could carry on a conversation. There is no way she was giving adequate attention to either child. She was not watching for traffic as she crossed. But she was deeply engaged in a phone call that pulled most of her attention elsewhere.
The sad thing is that most people are unaware that they are performing poorly on multiple tasks. They don’t have that insight because too much of their brain is occupied trying to multi-task. And it is becoming evident that all of these short bursts of technological communication are making many people attention deficient.
What is the answer to this dilemma? Being more present. Relaxing, being in the moment, breathing deeply and finding peace. Recharging the stressed out brain with a nice dose of peace.
Most people seem to have forgotten the great feeling of “all is well” that comes from stopping to be-here-now. Being in the present moment, not being fragmented by calls, texts or eMails that demand your attention elsewhere. Feeling the sun on your skin, smelling the air around you, feeling a breeze on your cheek (whether from a fan or outdoors), hearing the birds, noticing colors around you, all can contribute to being more present.
Take a break from eMail, texting and the internet. Go out to dinner or sit down with the family and have a real conversation, without interruptions from texts, eMails and phone calls.
Some people declare eMail amnesty. They trash all eMail from say, the past two weeks, then send an email to their important contacts telling them they don’t have any eMail from the past two weeks and ask them to re-send anything that was important. That way, they got rid of the spam and any unimportant eMails.
On a regular basis, take time for yourself. Turn off the phone, meditate, contemplate, read a book, listen to music, get a massage, anything that enhances your sense of peace.
Throughout the day, stop to relax. Sit quietly for a moment and feel where there is tension in your body so you can relax it. If you sit comfortably, close your eyes and relax your lower jaw (allow your mouth to drop slightly open), the other tensions in your body should begin to relax, as well.
A few minutes of relaxation throughout the day will recharge you to do a better job at everything, work, paying attention, listening to others, writing, etc.
Copyright © 2011 by Victoria Young