My chronic multitasking comes to me very honestly. My mother and her five sisters are all big multitaskers! It is nothing for each of them to have 6 or 7 projects on the go at a time. Unfortunately, it is rare for any of them to finish ANY of these in a timely manner! I seem to have the same genetic composition when it comes to prioritizing and getting things done.
Photo courtesy of CompFight
I pride myself in maximizing every second of the day… no rest for the weary! Unfortunately, trying to fit too many things into each second of the day can come with a price. I am often pressed for time to get where I need to be because, rather than leaving two minutes early, I will get something done in that two-minute time frame and then have zero extra minutes to drive to an activity, to work, etc. The Internet is just one more way for me to multitask.
Very recently, when working on our group project, I started an email to my group members. I opened up my fabulous Google drive to find the link that I wanted to share. I noticed a file that I needed for my students the next day, and started working on it. Four hours later, my group members were still waiting for my email and link. I had accomplished a million things in those four hours, but sending that email was not one of them.
Naomi, I am so inspired by you and the other classmates who tried to have a tabless Thursday. I started my morning (last Thursday) using only one tab or window at a time, but it lasted about 15 minutes. After leaving my computer to walk around my classroom, I returned to my desk and, without even realizing, I soon had multiple tabs open. By the time my prep rolled around, I had screens open for this class, for my own marking, for Christmas shopping, you name it! Tab overload! Clearly I need to enter a multitasking support group. Can anyone recommend a 12-step program for people like me?
I am going to attempt to have a tablet Thursday again this week. Perhaps the key to success is to gradually ween myself from my standard “10 tabs open” protocol. Or, perhaps my multitasking/multi-tabbing can be done in a productive way if I try a little bit of mindfulness on the side! In her post, Nicole linked to an article about multitasking and mindfulness. The author, Elisha Goldstein, suggests that we “practice becoming more present, focused, flexible…” in order to be able to better handle the intensity of something as powerful (and distracting) as the Internet. I certainly need to try to be more aware of each moment; look at the clock on my desktop, look at my list of things to do, and consider how I’m spending my time.
Although I don’t have a Facebook account, and I only use Twitter for EC&I 833, there are so many other ways to get distracted on the Internet. Most recently, shopping for identical Santa pajamas for my three girls and my three little nephews (anyone who thinks THAT was a waste of time can expect coal in their stocking), emailing family to plan an upcoming get-together, looking up the name of the artist for a favourite new song, jumping over to a podcast about the perils of canola oil…and the list goes on. StayFocused, as mentioned by Allison Gritzfeld, is an extension of Google Chrome; this very cool productivity tool is geared for those who tend to go off on long, winding Internet tangents. As much as I hate to admit it, even I, a bit of a work-a-holic, could really benefit from this! Basically, you set StayFocused to limit your time on certain websites, whether those be shopping sites, social media sites, concert listings, etc. It can temporarily block you from any site on the web that takes you away from the work that you’re supposed to be doing. I love this idea and will definitely be signing up!
Along a similar train of thought is the idea of “eating a frog” for breakfast…. in other words, dealing with your most dreaded task of the day FIRST. One of my esteemed classmates blogged or tweeted or Google+’d about this (I can’t seem to find it – I’m sorry for not giving you credit, but you know who you are!) and I found an article in NYMag that recommended the same practice. By getting rid of an undesirable chore right off the bat, we are setting ourselves up for a much more enjoyable “rest of the day”.
At present, I am zero for three when it comes to being mindful while multi-tabbing online, remembering to “StayFocused”, and eating frogs for breakfast. For this reason, I have to accept that the Internet, for me, can detract greatly from my productivity. That being said, however, my personal goal this week is to give each (all?!?) of these strategies a true “college try”. Stay tuned for my progress!