The Lost Art of Single Tasking

Multitasking Fail

 

One of the first Wii games we ever got was Mario Cart. It’s a fun, fast-paced game and it brings the whole family together. I figured that it was quality time with them since it was something they wanted to do with me. Keep in mind, that when we first got the Wii, my son was only 7 years old.

When he would play, it would be really frustrating because it seems that all he did was wreck, drive in circles, or drive backwards! Every single race, I would have to wait 1-2 minutes for the race to officially end. That’s way too long for me to go with nothing to do! So I had retrieved my laptop in order to catch up on some emails between races.

“Really” My wife would ask me? “Are you really going to get on the computer to check, and respond to emails between races?” She was perplexed that I could get anything done in the minute, or two, that it would take our son to finish the race! It takes longer than that for the computer to wake up! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I CAN get a lot done in a minute or two. I can brush my teeth, or comb my hair, or get dressed, or take a shower, or even put the laundry away in a minute or two.

See, the problem is that we, as a society, have gotten really good at multi-taking. We love doing more than one thing at a time. In fact, I believe that we’ve gotten so good at multi-tasking we’ve become terrible at doing just one thing! That one thing for me was to simply spend some quality time with my wife and son, and it turned into me keeping my inbox clean!

With all of the external distractions Jesus had to face, He never had a problem with single-tasking His time with God the Father. Jesus intentionally left the distractions, in order to focus on time His with the Father- Quality time. Think about it! Here was a man who could wake up in the morning, and just go out and start healing people just by talking to them, and yet He took time out to spend with His Father! How huge is that! You would almost have to ask, “Really?”

One of the questions asked in my accountability group is, “Have you spend quality time with family and friends?” I now understand that, in order to have quality time, I must first have a single-tasked mind.

————————-

Read other posts on Digital Sojourner written by Long Vo.

————————-

3 comments

  1. W. Christian M.

    I am a priest from TN and struggle with the demands of multitasking daily. At times the pressure becomes so great, and my physical needs so disturbing, that I feel I can hardly bear it. Needless to say, I sin. In the past, I have made some very bad choices while under such stress, choices I cannot now undo. I am regretful for the pain it has caused others and I pray daily for guidance. Now, when I’m feeling at my worst, I’ve learned to withdraw, slow down and single-task as you suggest. I begun creating many icons instead of taking out my frustrations on those round me. Instead of creating upset in my own parish, I now create works of art which bring joy to those who see them. I also devote much time to my blog. I also spend time hiking which serves a dual purpose. One, it calms me down. Second, it separates me from those I and tempted to vent my issues on. Thank you for such an affirming article.

    Fr. Christian

    • Fr. Brent S.

      II think you fail to grasp the point. We must not speak primarily in terms of duality or multi-tasking. We must speak of the mystery of darkness and it is the that mystery which is the one, the totality, the eternal. But we, who are finite, cannot experience the whole of this mystery. We must process it piecemeal. It is the darkness that calls all to return to the origin. It is the darkness that moves the universe and will ultimately call it to its cold, icy and entropic end. But we experience it most profoundly in human experience through death, destruction, chaos.

      In the human experience, the very certainty of death forces us to regard the space and time of our lives as causal and finite in nature. But the union of these two mysteries, the mysteries of life and death, in the cosmos characterizes all classical theories about existence and takes us beyond mere causality and finitude. Somehow, through observation of this cyclical play, we glimpse something of the eternal. We capature a glimpse of the mystery of darkness which is the only true mystery. It is the beginning and the end. Being and nothingness are as complementary but exclusive features of the description of the human experience of darkness, symbolizing the idealization of observation and description, respectively. At least that is what I have slowly come to see as I sit here and sip my tea.

  2. I like the term “mono-tasking.”