The growing myth that multitasking and moving ever faster is good

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I keep seeing ads and other references to speed and multitasking as good, desirable. The implication is that we all know that doing two or three things at once is better and if you can do them all faster and faster that’s better too. I keep wondering how this myth has spread so widely and been bought so thoroughly by so many people when studies all over the place show that multitasking makes you less efficient, not more, and the same is true for rushing around doing everything as fast as you can.

More and more I run into people who are constantly racing around and complaining about how much they have to do but I notice that because they don’t take the time to read a whole e-mail or to think through the most efficient way to do the next step they waste vast amounts of time on extra messages or having to do things over or arriving at the goal circuitously because they’ve chosen the most complicated way to get there.

One of the ways I’m grateful for long illness is that lack of energy caused me not only to slow down but to make sure that I plan projects and activities carefully so that I use the least effort for the best results. I’ve learned that a lot of times 10 minutes to half an hour of thinking through the most efficient way to accomplish what needs to be done means I can do it faster and with better results than if I just set off in a whirlwind. I’ve learned that if I read the whole e-mail someone sent me I don’t waste a lot of time asking questions they’ve already answered or getting more e-mails because I failed to answer the key question they asked so we get to the point more quickly.

But in the increasing chaos of speed and multitasking around me I find myself wondering what it would take to slow people down. Another advantage for me of illness was that I wound up choosing this spiritual journey as part of my healing process and meditation and spiritual practices have shown me that often slowing down and clearing my mind helps me see the straightest and most effectual path toward accomplishing a project so that slowing down actually makes me faster.

I also know from my own impatient days that when you’re hyped up and caught in the need for speed it can make you crazy to even think about slowing down or trying to do something like meditation or traditional yoga. I keep trying to think of a way to convince the speed freaks of the world that they can accomplish more and yet be more relaxed and happy by learning how to slow down and quiet their minds. So far I don’t think I’ve figured out a way to express it that convinces anyone to try a different path and I realize how judgmental it is to sit around thinking that all those speedy people need to change.

The only thing I can think of is to keep holding my own space of peacefulness and let that be my contribution to the web. I like to think that one day there will be enough of us meditating and practicing and eating “slow food”, etc. that we will tip the balance of the web of oneness and the world will get out of the mad race to ??? and become tranquil.  Be Peaceful!

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