supertasking: default setting

Listening to a talk or a program has become an inefficient use of time. To make better use of time, one can plan the program flow for tomorrow’s workshop – while listening to the talk. It is possible. It is common around here.

In an environment where everyone’s got a heavy workload, it is common to find people supertasking. Yep, it’s a higher level of multitasking. Multitasking is the “normal” setting nowadays. You don’t even notice that you’re doing it. With supertasking, you are relatively more aware that you’re trying to accomplish more tasks given the time. And it’s not limited to talks and conferences.

My day starts when the laptop screen’s lit. A tab for the morning news, another tab for the social network updates, and another for twitter to search for news highlights – all the while the radio is on and is set on an AM station giving a commentary or an analysis of the previous day’s major stories.

As the pages load, I prepare breakfast. I consume the meal as I browse through the main stories at the homepage of my referred news agency. Occasionally, I’d be clueless of the previous nights news stories (I don’t have a television at home) so I’d be searching the net for the details of the commentary from the radio. In between loading of pages, listening to the radio announcer, and gulps of coffee, I start listing the tasks to be accomplished within the day. (Of course, I never really get to cross all the entries out.)

Off to work and there’s music playing as I think about the best order to accomplish the day’s tasks. This happens during the walk from the apartment to the jeepney stops and then to the office.

With morning rituals all done, work starts and so does student consultation. These days, it’s normal to see a student talking with someone with earphones on. I listen to students make their introductory statements and excuses, assure them that I’m listening even if my eyes are on the screen as I deal with minor details such as fixing a page layout, finalizing a slide presentation, or posting student outputs in the class page online.

When it’s time for the hard questions or recommendations for their outputs, I need the eye contact – especially if I’m trying to determine if what they’re telling me are really set in past tense – or if they really should be using the future tense for the updates in their class requirements.

During meetings, one finds time to plan for class activities. Most of the time, the time you’re forced to sit still for a prolonged period of time is conducive for planning. Then comes the doodles and notes – unrelated to the agenda. The handout for the meeting contains my notes for the meeting. Sometimes, one can check student research or articles while attending these meetings – and still pay attention to what’s the current subject of discussion.

Me, I’m worried that I may lose my focus. I’m worried that I might be overdoing the “making better use of time” phrase. I cannot remember the last time I focused on one task, just one, for an entire hour. It’s a greater challenge. I’m trying to recall the last time I walked with running through the day’s events or worrying about what I failed to cross out.

I cannot imagine how people would be dealing the increasing pace of of work in ten or twenty year’s time. Right now, a moment of stillness and of focus is such a premium. Not everyone can have that moment.


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