Recent studies claim that multi-tasking destroys your brain, a change in point of view especially as one boasts of having multi-tasking ability, but in fact can cause biological deterioration and cognitive decline, where the best thing is to focus on one task at a time. One had earlier thought that people who can only focus on one task are simple minded, unable to grasp the subtleties of mental multi-processing similar to a computer chip, where the mind moved along parallel lines. Someone said that having 2 contradictory thoughts is a mark of true intelligence, now it’s the reverse, the single task focus is the wiser path; the so–called simple minded folks are in fact the wiser, whereas the multi-tasking fool is often stressed out, ready to crash and burn in his own ideas of superiority. The single task simpleton has a healthy brain, with serenity in life; bereft of pressure and stress, contrary to the high achieving multi-task personality who is actively destroying his brain with unnecessary labor. Making one’s life complex, by indulging in multiple activities, was one way to be interesting, following a book by Edward de Bono, the originator of the thinking hats theory, was in reality a road to mental deterioration.
The weekend was again a whirl wind of activity, where Friday was spent completing late work, attending 3 morning meetings at the same time (remote by phone), rushing to a park at lunch time for the department picnic, enjoying food and games in the trail, rushing back to work and going to a nearby hotel to help arrange a Toastmaster conference, going to the gym to swim at dusk and rushing back to the hotel in the evening to observe the impromptu speech contest. The next day, Saturday, was a journey back to the conference, attending the training sessions, listening to the speeches, skipping lunch and going to Wal-Mart to buy gardening supplies, going back to the conference for the plenary speech, leaving at dusk and going to the gym again to swim, and rushing back to help in the main speech contest; putting on wireless microphones on speakers before they walked onto the stage. It was a very educational day, attending training, listening to speeches, meeting people and watching the drama of speakers practicing their speeches, with one losing his thoughts and walking out, his pretty daughter rushing out of the main ballroom to embrace him, a family drama played out in public, the hidden story of a young son afflicted with type-1 diabetes.
Awaking early Sunday morning, digging holes to plant new shrubs, white and red azaleas, mixing the red earth with garden soil from Wal-Mart, doing difficult work before the sun rises, completing the task in 2 hours, going back inside to cook breakfast of turkey ham omelet, catching up on reading and watching a film or two from the library or recorded in the DVR. Going fishing at 2pm with 2 colleagues at work, enjoying a bucolic afternoon beside a minuscule lake, hidden in one of those sprawling trailer park subdivisions with few houses, drinking beer, trading stories and catching a fish; borrowing a fishing rod, when one’s own proved too complex, enjoying fishing until 6 pm. Rushing to read magazines and books at home, enjoying the Sidney Reilly series with Sam Neil, talking to relatives to discuss the problems of life and difficulties in the home country; sad that brothers and sisters don’t help each other, with one oceans away from being able to help parents in their declining years. One feels guilty with the ease of life here, but one misses the drama and excitement of being home, where one is constantly in motion with third-world traffic and issues, otherwise one goes fat and obese with the affluence.
How does one help when one is oceans away? In a way, it’s no different from work with outsource companies in India or the Philippines, meeting remotely and trying to solve problems far away. With the shortness of time, pausing like a deer in the headlights is not an option until one is buried with the ephemera of cyberspace. I am reading a book called ‘Organize your Mind, Organize your Life,’ reading in the parking lot as one waits for another event in the conference, opening the air condition in the car and blocking the sun as one reads the book, tackling head on what one has been grappling with recently at work, the onrush of life that results in being overwhelmed and stressed. Hence, the ‘focus’ on multi-tasking, to try in catch up with the onslaught of work, but finding out that it’s bad for one’s mental health. This is maybe the best book I would read this year, to achieve a balance in one’s life, offering some techniques to be effective. I enjoyed my time at the conference, despite my hectic schedule but I realized it was not for me, my responsibilities both in the club and at work has taken its toll. It was a good experience where one realized his limitation and priorities, now coupled with family challenges back home in his native country.