Tag: Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin and the Mouse

How I finally accepted multi-tasking

It had been there for years, but I had never noticed it.

Until one morning when I found myself with a telephone receiver tucked under my neck while I talked with an acquaintance, a computer mouse in my hand while I surfed the Internet, and a pile of snail mail in front of me that I scanned between web page downloads.

My power of attention had suffered a serious blow and I didn’t even see it coming. I suddenly realized: The much-vaunted act of multi-tasking had settled in me. It unnerved me a bit, so I watched myself for a few weeks and discovered that I could hardly do anything without wanting to do something else at the same time.

Sure, there were exceptions. Sex, for instance, could still keep my attention. I’m guessing an armed robber with a psychotic laugh and an AK47 could, too. I could also stay focused when checking my investments.

So sex, fear, and money. Those things could demand single-task attention.

But in nearly all other activities, the urge to be doing another thing at the same time was there.

Why do we multi-task?

I don’t know when it started. I think I’ve had the multi-tasking disposition for years. Even back in college, when leisure was life, I kinda liked doing laundry because I could study at the same time.

I’m guessing multi-tasking was stamped on my upbringing.

It isn’t surprising. I’m an American, and I was raised with conventional American ideas of good living, like a penny saved is a penny earned, God helps them that help themselves, and never leave until tomorrow that which you can do today.

Those, of course, are Franklinisms. Ben also wrote, “Lose no time, be always employed in something useful; cut off all … Read the rest