The driver and I had been together for an hour, and between the two of us we had been doing six different things. He was driving, talking on his phone and watching a video. I was riding, working on my laptop and listening to my iPod. There was only one thing we never did: Talk to each other.
He muses on this experience
with Linda Stone, the technologist who once labeled the disease of the Internet age “continuous partial attention” — two people doing six things, devoting only partial attention to each one — she remarked: “We’re so accessible, we’re inaccessible. We can’t find the off switch on our devices or on ourselves. ... We want to wear an iPod as much to listen to our own playlists as to block out the rest of the world and protect ourselves from all that noise. We are everywhere — except where we actually are physically.”
I don't believe in multi-tasking. When my right and left hands are doing different things, it makes me stupid. I'm doing two things half-well.
So I Guess I'm Stupid Right Now.
Right now, I am sitting in a coffee shop, writing with Matt Slaybaugh. (We are writing -- very slowly -- a book on creativity and competence. My job is to write posts. Matt's job is to write posts and also guide our writing toward coherence. Good luck, Matt!)
Through the foolishness of multi-tasking, here's how my mind, hands and heart are split:
- 10% enjoying this cup of coffee. I am mindful that it is creamy and strong. (Creamy and strong? That's like me. We are what we drink.)
- 15% scanning the room for people I might know. I am sitting in fear that anyone might say "hello," and I can't quite come up with his or her name.
- 15% scanning the room for people I do not know. They are interesting too look at. 5% of this 15% is focused on not being creepy.
- 50% writing this post. I am writing this post. I am.
- 10% wondering if Matt is working on our project, or if he is answering his email. I can't quite see his screen. Dang.
- 3% taking a photograph of this moment and posting it at the top of this post (and Facebook).
That's 103%. I'm giving this moment 103%! (Boy, is that ever proof that I'm stupid. There is no such thing as giving more than 100%, no matter what the coach shouts at halftime.)
How Multi Are You Right Now?
What are you doing? What else? What else?
If you were to give up everything else for the next 30 minutes, what would you do, single-mindedly, single-tasking?
I'm going to write. You?