An Unhurried Life (Pt. 4): Being Efficient and Effective
This post was written by Jim Smith, a long time friend of Project Patch who worked as a therapist at our Youth Ranch and helped launch our Family Experience. He no longer works at Project Patch but continues to serve families, teens and equip the church for ministry.
We all sincerely hope the car driving toward us is not piloted by a multi-tasker. The worst case scenario would be a car coming toward us at night whose driver is texting on their phone explaining why they are late to an appointment while eating a hamburger and fries picked up from the drive through. Not a pleasant thought.
In a blog article from Harvard Medical School, Patrick Skerrett calls multitasking a “medical and mental hazard.” He notes in the article that research about multitasking reveals that it has a huge downside. When we multitask we increase the chances of making mistakes and missing important information and cues. We also lose things from our working memory easier which hinders problem solving and creativity.
The medical websites WebMD and Scripps have articles pointing out that multitasking does not exist. Our brains simply cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. The experts point out that the brain shifts back and forth between things we are focusing on. During those shifts, information is lost, misinterpreted and dropped. Susan Kuchinskas in “Why Multitasking Is Not Efficient” notes that David Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and an expert on driver distraction makes the point that stress, including the self-imposed kind, puts more cortisol into the bloodstream. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can damage the heart, cause high blood pressure, suppress the immune system, and make you susceptible to Type 2 diabetes.
In short, attempting to multitask is a symptom of our hurried society which seeks to impose its way of living life upon us all, even though research points to the conclusion that this way of living is counterproductive and even destructive.
We all like to get to the end of the day and feel that it was meaningful and productive. If we are able to un-hurry our lives, we can learn to focus on one thing at a time which then allows us to be creative and effective in what we are doing. This lowers our stress levels and raises our sense of satisfaction about what we are doing. When we do move on to the next thing it is with a sense of shifting our complete attention, not hurrying on to the next demand and feeling overwhelmed.
One way to bring about this ability to un-hurry our lives is to seek solitude. It is pretty difficult to deny the effectiveness of the life of Jesus Christ. Even if one does not recognize Him for who He claimed to be the reality that He changed the world is irrefutable. He lived a very busy yet unhurried life. Those who recorded the history of His life make note that He frequently sought solitude. Though He had a mandate from His Father, deadlines, and was surrounded by people with urgent needs, He found time to be alone. The truth is our society has become filled with notions and pressures about how to find success, happiness, and satisfaction that are antithetical to an unhurried life that allows for solitude. Instead of encouraging us to seek wisdom, healthy relationships, and reflective lives, we are pressured to succumb to the adrenaline pumping, hurried lifestyle that beckons like the Siren Folly of Proverbs 9 to leave our values behind and gives ourselves over to a twisted idea of “the good life.”
So…let’s find some time for solitude. It can be as short as minutes and as long as a few days but make it happen! Give yourself the gift of coming apart by yourself to reflect on those things that are truly important and take a break from the “Tyranny of the Urgent.”
A good book to reflect on would be: “Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life” by Henri J. M. Nouwen.
Image credit: digitaltrends.com