I came across this fabulous website that I need to share. It’s The International Institute of Not Doing Much. I am comforted that they call out multitasking for what it is – a moral weakness. All this is done tongue in cheek, but with a serious mission. It made me wonder. When did we stop paying full attention to what we were doing? When did concentrating on a single task and doing it well, mono-tasking, become a stigma? Yes I said it. The ability to multi-task is cool and if you can’t you’re somewhat defective? Lately it’s all about doing many things at once. Most job ads I’ve seen read, “ability to multi-task and handle a high stress environment”. Unfortunately, we are not robots and something will give. Lately research has shown that multi-tasking splits the brain. The brain can’t handle more than two tasks at once. Add a third and your prefrontal cortax will disregard one.
I blame it all on the influx of new gadgets like laptops, blackberries and mobile phones. I feel that we have become less not more productive at work. All these distractions make it so much harder to concentrate. We spend more time answering emails and business calls rather than doing actual work. There’s no time left to focus. We end up working longer hours because the whole day was spent at meetings or handling the influx in our electronic inboxes. Most of my friends spend nights writing their reports or proposals because their whole day was spent juggling emails and meetings. In the end something gives and it’s usually our health.
To keep going at the current pace expected by Corporations, most executives accumulate a sleep debt. They try to pay it back during the weekends, but never quite achieve it. Why don’t bosses understand that we are only human. Overworking leads to reduced productivity and a higher chance of accidents. Very few people may realize that sleep deprivation played a role in disasters like the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Challenger space shuttle disaster. We don’t need to look at big disasters. Who can blame the poor overworked employee for typos or numerical errors when they are operating in a sleep deprived zombie state.
I am still dreaming and hoping for a work revolution and as we know, it won’t work unless it comes from the top. I leave you with this brilliant poem from The Institute:
Forty hours is long enough
for toil and strain and strife.
It’s really all too rough,
this so-called working life.
All work can make you such a bore,
so put your feet up and relax,
and don’t feel guilty if you ignore
e-mail, phone, and fax.