Coming to the realisation that he was not really present in what he was doing, and (mis)using his position to shift focus, when he was bored or uanble to take a break, this guy took a week off of “multitasking”:
First, it was delightful. I noticed this most dramatically when I was with my children. I shut my cell phone off and found myself much more deeply engaged and present with them. I never realized how significantly a short moment of checking my email disengaged me from the people and things right there in front of me. Don’t laugh, but I actually — for the first time in a while — noticed the beauty of leaves blowing in the wind.
Second, I made significant progress on challenging projects, the kind that — like writing or strategizing — require thought and persistence. The kind I usually try to distract myself from. I stayed with each project when it got hard, and experienced a number of breakthroughs.
Third, my stress dropped dramatically. Research shows that multitasking isn’t just inefficient, it’s stressful. And I found that to be true. It was a relief to do only one thing at a time. I felt liberated from the strain of keeping so many balls in the air at each moment. It felt reassuring to finish one thing before going to the next.
Fourth, I lost all patience for things I felt were not a good use of my time. An hour-long meeting seemed interminably long. A meandering pointless conversation was excruciating. II became laser-focused on getting things done. Since I wasn’t doing anything else, I got bored much more quickly. I had no tolerance for wasted time.
Fifth, I had tremendous patience for things I felt were useful and enjoyable. When I listened to my wife Eleanor, I was in no rush. When I was brainstorming about a difficult problem, I stuck with it. Nothing else was competing for my attention so I was able to settle into the one thing I was doing.
Sixth, there was no downside. I lost nothing by not multitasking. No projects were left unfinished. No one became frustrated with me for not answering a call or failing to return an email the second I received it.