I’ve just been re-reading an article in this month’s Vogue, entitled Girl, Uninterrupted, and I thought it was rather interesting. After her boss confesses that multi-tasking doesn’t work, author Cleo Glyde begins asking questions…
“But if these timesavers get more done, why do we have far less leisure time than our parents? Now the office can come anywhere, does it have to come everywhere? I had already started to ask myself whether it was worth it. Now my CEO had raised the more immediate question: does it even work?”
Spurred on by pyschology and neuroscience – “neuroscientists have torn the mask off multi-tasking and revealed its true face, which is blank and pale and drawn. Personally, I’d rather have a face that is dewy and petal fresh” – Glyde trials a new way of life. The idea is simple – for one month, she would only do one task at a time. She dropped her mobile phone for a landline phone only, held off getting a television in her new apartment, didn’t unpack her laptop speakers and prescribed herself one full weekday off. She dropped the multi-tasking and embraced the good old fashioned to-list. And this is what she noticed..
Firstly, she realised how automatic multi-tasking had become. This revelation was followed by the realisation that multi-tasking is a great rationalisation for procrastination. Thirdly, she discovered that ‘it takes time to fight an acute urgency to get a lot of other things done‘. But, as she states later, she soon realised ‘that the tasks that formerly seemed to last forever become surreally compacted when given all my attention – and that the deeper I delve into a subject time-wise, the more creative meanderings get the chance to bud, then flourish‘ (a real benefit for Glyde, a freelance writer!).
Scheduling time to make phonecalls and checking emails in blocks became her new way of communicating, and the biggest shift, she suggests, is staying out of cyberspace. However, when the designated ‘play-time’ comes, she can take a guilt-free moment, or few, to explore the internet, curl up with a good book (rather than catching a few pages here and there) and lie in bed chatting to a friend on the phone, rather than trying to juggle dinner, catch up on the goss and get the washing done.
‘For someone who has always loved drama and spontaneity, the ritual of a time and place for everything is the new adventure and, although challenging, does make life a little less overwhelming.’
“It all gets done anyhow – and maybe showing up for your own life by being present is the ultimate in time management. After all, when our number is up and life on earth ends, our to-do lists will get permanently interrupted. Or as Woody Allen put it, you just can’t ride two horses with one behind.“