If you had asked Vince Lombardi what made someone successful, he would have given you a pretty succinct answer:
“Success demands a singleness of purpose.”
When we think of success we think immediately of laser pinpointed focus; a birddog-like obsession of purpose that forces constantly over the finish line in an exhausted and emaciated state of existence.
Publilius once said that “to do two things at once was to do neither,” and that’s obviously true when it comes to things like emailing or driving, but it’s not the case when it comes to our creativity. Sometimes, doing two things at once is just the thing we need to get those creative juices flowing again and sometimes it’s just the thing we need to reignite our passion for life.
I introduce to you: slow-motion multitasking.
It was a phrase I first came across while listening to a brilliant TedTalk from Tim Harford.
Slow-motion multitasking is basically the concept that doing slow, intentional and enjoyable multi-tasking is the key to stimulating our creativity.
For example, when things go wrong or you hit a wall with whatever you’re working on, you take a step back to pursue something else. When you feel your creativity starting to open up again, you return to your first project. Hopefully, feeling a sense of refreshment that allows you to complete it with more success than your initial attempt.
Giving ourselves a few different tasks to complete at once can be challenging, but it’s exactly that kind of diversity that allows us to grow as problem solvers. When we work on several projects at once, those projects can self-pollinate and that (usually) results in innovation.
Consider the story of Albert Einstein.
In 1905, Albert Einstein published four scientific papers that were remarkable and history-making. One of the papers was on the Brownian theory, and provided not only the empirical evidence that atoms exist, it also laid out the mathematics behind financial economics.
Next came a paper on special relativity, and after that followed another paper on the photoelectric effect (the reason our solar panels work today and worthy of a Nobel Prize). The fourth paper was the one that brought us the infamous E=mc² — an equation which radically changed science forever.
Despite the wise musings of Publilius or Vince Lombardi, Einstein excelled when he dabbled a little in all the things that interested him. Rather that doggedly pursuing one topic until he was numb and dumb with boredom, Einstein allowed himself to commit to several large products and it paid off in spades.
Trust me, this skill applies to you too.
Okay. I know that Einstein is a bit of an extreme example, but it’s one that works. While researching the Brownian theory might not be the same as going to work at the local post office, this approach to thinking and living is one that can have transformative power in our own lives.
It seems counterintuitive, perhaps, to stretch yourself across several tasks or projects at once.
Usually, we fall into multitasking because we’ve fallen behind somewhere else in our lives. Whether it’s work or your personal life, desperation leaves us running late, stressed out and juggling way more than we can handle. When we think multi-tasking we think chaos, and we think we have to do everything at once.
Slow-motion tasking is more controlled than that…
Anger and unhappiness are infectious. Learn how to maintain your inner peace in an increasingly crazy world. by: E.B. Johnson It seems like everywhere you look today, you’re staring into the face of anger. People are angry about traffic. People are angry about the weather.