HOW ARE YOU BUSY?
One of the best bits of advice I’ve come across is in Sam Bennett’s book GET IT DONE: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day: “Be busy like a trapeze artist flying through the air or like a stuntwoman – just cleanly move through each task with great clarity, concentration, and grace.”
WHY MULTI-TASKING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA
I’m thinking that the development of clarity, concentration and grace is probably the best argument there is for not multi-tasking.
Think about it. When you’re trying to do three things at once, you are never very focused or concentrated on just one thing because the other two tasks you’re trying to do in tandem keep niggling at you and jostling your elbow.
These other tasks distract you and that can make you clumsy. You don’t do any of the tasks you’ve set for yourself very well and it’s likely that you’ll screw them all up. And if you’re flying high, it is probable that you’ll also take a tumble.
The antidote to multi-tasking is uni-tasking: doing one thing at a time with focus, care, and attention.
Since I’ve got lots of things to do, serial uni-tasking is going to be my next big thing! Do many things, one thing at a time….one-step, one-step, one-step. I’ll still be busy, but I probably won’t fall off the trapeze in a distracted moment.
I’ve been tripping on watching guys play at parkour, which is also called “free-running.” This extreme sport, which apparently began in France, involves running at top speed through an urban or natural obstacle course using whatever happens to be there to get further.
The practitioners have to just DEAL with whatever gets in their way and just keep on going. In a split-second they have to accept what lies in front of them and fling themselves at it in order to overcome whatever challenge it presents.
It’s an astounding display of physical prowess, fast thinking, and fearlessness. You cannot do anything ELSE except stay on course and keep on going because if you’re distracted in the middle of leaping from one rooftop to another, you are likely to end up as street pizza on the sidewalk below.
Here’s a You-Tube video of the world’s best parkour and free-running. It was posted by StuntsAmazing….
To remind myself of my latest resolve, I have a new motto: PARKOUR!
ANOTHER STRATEGY, ANOTHER POEM
And here’s a poem about yet another strategy – accepting what is and saying “yes.” This poem is written in pidgin. However, only a few of the words are likely to be unfamiliar, I am thinking. Mostly it’s the grammatical liberties taken by the speaker that makes the poem pidgin.
The word “went” set before any verb turns that verb into past tense, so “you went show me” translates to “you showed me.” Often the “is” and the “are” get dropped in the sentence structures. (“You no fool” is really “you are no fool” in proper English.) “For” is oftentimes substituted for “to” in a sentence.
All of this ungrammatical playing around gives pidgin its own special rhythm, which is very useful for certain poems.
- “Right on” basically means “accurate” or possibly “true.”
- “Braddah” means “brother.”
- “Babylon” is the nonsense and delusions that the world tries to sell you. It’s a favorite shorthand word taken from Rastafarian speechifying.
- “No fool around” means “to talk straight.”
- “Go good” basically means to “move the right way.”
- “ ‘As how” means “that’s the way to do it” or “that’s the way it is.”
- “Some good” means “very good” and “all good” means “everything is good.”
“Da kine” is a Hawaiian-style local pidgin phrase that’s really hard to describe. It basically refers to the all of everything in a particular context that requires no further explication, mostly because the other person already knows what the speaker is referring to.
Sometimes the use of “da kine” can verge on telepathy. It requires that the two people who are talking are in tune with each other to a high degree.
You know you right on, my braddah.
You went show me how for live.
“For drown out Babylon,” you went tell me,
“Say ‘yes’ to Yes.”
You no fool around, my braddah,
You went teach me for go good.
“No question, just stay cool,”
“Say ‘yes’,” you went tell me, ‘to Yes.”
“Say ‘yes’,” you went tell me. ” ‘As how.”
” ‘No’ only bring you down.”
“Accept,” you went tell me, “what’s now,”
“Say ‘yes’,” you went tell me, “to Yes.”
Through your anger, grief, and pain
“Say ‘yes,’ ” you went tell me, “to Yes.”
And now…oh, wow…some good
‘Cause you went say “yes” to Yes.
My braddah, you went show
Da kine can be all good,
And ev’rything just flow
When you say “yes” to Yes.
By Netta Kanoho
Picture credit: Trapeze Artists by Tender Young Pony of Insomnia via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
SOME OTHER POSTS TO EXPLORE
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24 thoughts on “HOW ARE YOU BUSY?”
Sometimes we are so busy multitasking that our to-do list never seems to get any shorter. We just keep plugging away, trying to do 3 things at once and then nothing ever gets done. What we really need to do, is slow down, take it one step at a time, do one task, mark it off the list, and then go on to the next task. If you are clear on what you need to do and you are in the moment, things sure seem to get done more quickly and more efficiently.
I could not agree with you more, Faith. Running around like a chicken without a head is most frustrating! One thing that helps with focusing is a funny sort of exercise involving a timer called the Pomodoro technique. Thank you for your visit and your comments. Please come again….
Indeed, multi-tasking really consumes energy more than the one who had focused on a single task since put a lot of concentration to worked on each aspect needed.
Nice to share your thought on these post, might inspire others to create a lot of creation with great quality.
Keep up the good inspiration~
Hey Kevin…thanks for the visit and your comments. I do appreciate them. Please do come again….
I agree with you that multi-tasking is no good. I don’t remember if I saw something on Discovery Channel, but the scientist said that “multitasking” does not exist in reality. The brain is not able to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.
The investigation was fascinating as they are done a real life example of someone which was considered a multitasker.
Hey Kevin: Thanks for your visit and your comments. I agree that the studies and explorations of how the human brain works are fascinating. Please do come again!
I liked the segue into your Poem For Real. I actually enjoyed that read and I am not a poet. Multitasking can be something hindering and something a lot of people cannot understand the importance of just taking things one step at a time. I also love the fact that Parkour started in France I never knew that which is pretty cool.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Sebastian. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
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I totally agree. When I am multitasking I usually procrastinate after a few minutes. I feel like it has become a skill to focus on one thing at a time (especially with all the distractions). Sometimes I trick my brain to think I am only working for half an hour, but little do I know that I have worked for hours. It becomes easier when you are in the working state.
Thanks for the visit, Vincent. I do agree that multi-tasking does play games with your head. I’m becoming a true believer in serial uni-tasking.
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It is an interesting POV for me since I am always in the middle of doing a few things at the same time, and it inspires me to try out slowing down & “uni- tasking”.
Thanks for that
(I am about to build my first website for my family business)
Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Dom. I’m glad the post was helpful. Good fortune as you build your website. It really is a good adventure, that.
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Hi Netta, I came to your site looking for philosophical advice about good ways of living. I love acrobatics, so I was immediately touched by your trapeze artists picture. Upon reading your blog and searching for guidance, what I am grasping here is that you are mentioning three different ways of living, and I don’t see that they are the same at all or even compatible.
To me, the three different activities, trapeze artist, parkour runner, and the Rastafarian, good-with-the-flow way of life, are all different valid ways to live. There are innumerable ways to live!
And at different times, we can all need one kind or a different kind of a way to live. There is even much space for the multi-tasking way of life too! Sometimes, this is the appropriate way to get many things done, and sometimes it is not.
It ain’t simple… I am sure you agree though.
I really enjoy your poems, they are wonderful. Cheers, Phil
Thanks for your intriguing thoughts, Phil. They got me thinking. The thing that the trapeze artist, the parkour runner and the good-with-the-flow way of lifer have in common, I think, is the focus on the present moment rather than the more scattered approach of a multi-tasker who is trying to cram several things into one little time frame (and sometimes blowing each one).
I do agree that there are many ways of living and each one has validity. It depends on what works for you, I suppose.
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About Netta.I am moved by your wonderful story. It’s both heart wrenching concerning the loss of your husband and encouraging in that you re-discovered a long forgotten passion. You are moving forward and that is wonderful.
I just read your post “ Override “Staircase Wit”. The one sentence you wrote really grabs me – “That smart-ass, much-regretted remark that you’d like to disown stays with you as well, always available for replay when you’re feeling low and want to get really disheartened by the dumbness of you.” I have experienced it and all I want to do is cast it off of me but it sticks like glue. I am frequently reminded of it and I am learning to develop a personal shield and a quick reply when things like that erupt in my life.
This Diderot quote really says it all – “A sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument becomes confused and can only think clearly again [when he reaches] the bottom of the stairs.”
To your point – the possibility of training oneself to be less governed by the physical realities of the brain wiring in a manner similar to how one can train their muscles to be stronger, faster and more agile is exactly the actions that I am working so dimwitted offhand insults don’t affect me. I am convinced that it is entirely possible to rewire our brains to gain a more controlled approach to handling stressful interactions with other people.
I can’t thank you enough for this wonderfully insightful article. It resonates with many more I’m sure.
Thanks for wandering all over my blog, Dave. I do love that you find it intriguing and worth exploring.
Thank you for taking the time as well to comment on several of the other posts. I do appreciate it and am glad you enjoyed yourself.
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Well multitasking is not my forte, and I realized it a bit too late. I try to do multiple side business and the result is no one from them gave significant result.
It’s interesting that you can relate parkour as your motto. I agree that the people who do this extreme activities are amazing 🙂 Maybe I should integrate it into my motto too .
Welcome back, Alblue. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do agree that focusing on one thing — task, business or whatever — in the moment does tend to produce better results.
The thing parkour teaches, I think, is that you can (with practice) approach each challenge one at a time, one after the other in more and more rapid succession. If you get good enough, you can learn new things that help you go faster and faster. Then you end up doing lots of stuff and each one gets done well enough so that you don’t end up as street pizza.
My thought, anyway.
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Good Morning, Life Built Poems was interesting, I have never learned another language so I missed out on some of the interesting parts of the site. I am also pretty slow to catch the funny part of a trick when it is played on me.
I have had 85 years to test all the funny things that happen to a person. I like poems by Banjo Patterson from Australia before 1900, and Edgar Allen Poe, And Wally Mcray Cowboy poet.. I didn’t understand the Yiddish poetry.
I liked some of the poems that ar on this site, but all people will read and enjoy as they see fit. Jim
Thanks for visiting my blog and for sharing your thoughts, James. I do appreciate it.
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This is great information for anyone, no matter what sort of work they do and parkour is a perfect example to show it’s true! These people are talented but also extremely focused on one task at a time. They have to be. And that’s how they got so good.
Wouldn’t we all like to be this way in our professional lives, to be able to so precise as we scream from one task to another while making it look effortless?
Hey Cynthia, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I certainly do wish I could make all of my own bumbling and stumbling around look purposeful and effortless! Hee!
Maybe I just need a little more practice!
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A very thought provoking article which I really enjoyed reading.
Your view on the dangers of multi-tasking resonated strongly with me, I’ve never been great at that and your article has encouraged me to try to focus on finishing one task at a time, but making sure each is completed properly.
I really like Parkour too and I follow a few athletes/performers on Instagram – it is wild what they can do and makes such compelling viewing.
I really liked your poem “For Real” – it’s conveys such a powerful sentiment “accepting what is and saying yes”
Great website overall, keep up the amazing work!
John, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do appreciate it. I am glad you found the post helpful.
Myself, I have been seriously practicing being a serial uni-tasker. I do find that it works better for me.
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