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Go Ahead, Have Some Breathing Space

When you carve out a few moments of breathing space for yourself, the world is a different place

Go Ahead, Have Some Breathing Space

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Thank goodness, it’s Saturday. 2021 is in progress with more challenges than we each anticipated, but what would it be like to be beamed back to 1821 with your battery-powered tablet or cell phone? No one would know anything about these devices. You might be deemed a sorcerer or a witch. Today, we know that much of what we do not understand or cannot see exists, i.e., ultrasonic waves, TV remote controls, smartphones, SONAR, RADAR, and CAT scans to name a few of 1000s of examples.

Suppose you were beamed to the year 2031 and told that you could handle all of the information confronting you, never need to feel behind, and feel the clock slowing down. What’s more, suppose you were told there was no reason to have headaches, or that you could approach nearly everything in your career with grace. Would this be sorcery? Not really, because each of these capabilities are possible today.

Future Capabilities

What would your life be like if you had the ability to drop back when you wanted or needed to do so? To have time for true rest and relaxation? To have time for quiet reflection? While no one lives a life with constant breathing space, there are some among us who recognize the limits of our days, weeks, years, careers, and lives, versus the infinity of that which competes for our time and attention.

Even in tough situations, if you have a vivid portrayal of what you face, you can map out an approach that will bring you to higher ground.

During the darkest days of World War II, London endured the fire-bombing Blitzkrieg and many citizens feared they would become slaves to the brutal Third Reich. Winston Churchill assessed this ultimate challenge, and concluded what he had to do to be triumphant: Drag the Americans into the war, at least via means of wartime production of armaments. He then proceeded to do precisely that.

Likewise, most of the concerns that you face in your career or your life are not insurmountable, although they might be annoying and relentless. To have breathing space, in requires continual effort. You wouldn’t take a bath once a week whether you needed it or not; you clean yourself often. So it is with having breathing space.

Creating a Little Heaven on Earth

Despite the pace of change and the constant development of technology, all the info that confronts you on a daily basis, and everything that competes for your time and attention, you have the opportunity to remain resilient.

When you carve out a few moments of breathing space for yourself, the world is a different place; it’s not so hectic. Often, things work out for the best. You have a sense of being in charge, independent of your surroundings.

The feeling of being in control of your life, while acknowledging that you’re a small factor in the overall scheme of life, enhances your daily experience of the world around you.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Multitasking Renders You Less Productive

Multitasking sends a message to your subconscious that this is how you must proceed to stay competitive and succeed

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Dividing your attention to complete multiple activities at once can make you less effective at everything you’re doing.

From CEOs to newbie hires, everyone has numerous tasks to manage throughout the course of a day, week, month, and year. The multitude of responsibilities on your plate requires the capacity for self-management, time management, and the effective allocation of your resources. However, don’t confuse legitimate workplace skills with the contemporary, ill-advised phenomenon called multitasking.

A False Promise

Multitasking might appear to be a reliable way to tackle many issues that compete for your time and attention. It seems intuitive that if you can juggle both A and B concurrently, you’re achieving a productivity gain and saving significant time. But the fallacy in that argument is surmising that the human brain can double-up or triple-up on tasks with no loss of attention, focus, or effectiveness.

A plethora of psychological studies have shown that the human brain can only give “sharp attention” in one direction at a time. Seeking to give this level of attention in multiple directions yields a reverberating type of attention allotted to each activity and predictably results in a loss of mental acuity and productivity.

A clear example of multitasking is when you’re driving along the highway and speaking on a smartphone. Even if you switch to the hands-free speaker phone feature, both activities compete for your brain’s vital sharp attention. So you execute neither activity as effectively as you could by undertaking one activity at a time. It’s also prudent to point out that driving while talking on the phone-hands-free or not-contributes to distracted driving and an elevated rate of vehicular accidents.

Multitasking Coexists Best With Routine

Certainly, it’s okay to multitask while completing some repetitive and familiar work activities. You can run a print job while you work with a file on your screen, for example. As long as the printer has adequate toner and the paper feeds through as designed, there is no deficit in multitasking in this manner.

Nevertheless, for whatever task you are attempting to handle, the fact that you are running a print job at the same time is likely to diminish your overall effectiveness.

The loss in mental acuity will be relatively minor, and you might not even be aware of it. The real risk of workplace multitasking, however, is that you never quite retreat to that mental space where you can offer concerted concentration and, hence, your best work. But if you trace your actions over time, you’ll likely see that for the larger tasks you executed effectively, you stopped multitasking and focused on the task at hand.

Sending the Wrong Message

Multitasking sends a message to your subconscious that this is the way you have to proceed to stay competitive and succeed. When multitasking becomes ingrained in your psyche, you’re telling yourself deep down that you can’t make it in real estate any other way. You end up missing the benefits derived from practicing the art of “doing one thing at a time.”

Multitaskers have trouble “seeing the forest for the trees” and often fail to focus on the most critical components of their day-to-day operations, abandoning less palatable tasks because they require creativity, concentration, and analysis.

As an everyday practice, repeated often, multitasking separates those who continually scramble to keep pace from those who rise to the top.

Avoid the Bind

Since we all face multiple priorities on the job, it’s easy to equate managing multiple priorities with multitasking. The larger and more vital the task, the more essential to focus on it intently. Practice doing one thing at a time. When you’ve finished a project or have taken it as far as you can, only then should you switch focus to your second most important task, and so on.

As your day and work unfold, mastering the art of doing one thing at a time is the best way to proceed. You may, however, multitask on issues that represent the routine or familiar and that carry few consequences for lost time on the trail. In general, though, your best strategy for high productivity is to forsake multitasking and its false promise as you handle the multiple priorities that you face.

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Business

Culture Jamming, by Kalle Lasn

America has been subverted by corporate agendas and its elected officials bow before corporate power as a condition of their survival in office

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Here are excerpts from the culture-shaking book, Culture Jamming by Kalle Lasn, published by  William Morrow in 1999, which rings truer now than ever!

A Multitrillion-dollar Brand

America is no longer a country. It’s a multitrillion-dollar brand…. essentially no different from McDonald’s, Marlboro or General Motors. It’s an image “sold” not only to the citizens of the U.S., but to consumers worldwide. The American brand is associated with catch-words such as “democracy;’ “opportunity” and “freedom.” But like cigarettes that are sold as symbols of vitality and youthful rebellion, the American reality is very different from its brand image.

America has been subverted by corporate agendas. Its elected officials bow before corporate power as a condition of their survival in office. A collective sense of powerlessness and disillusionment has set in. A deeply felt sense of betrayal is brewing.

By The People?

American culture is no longer created by the people. Our stories, once passed from one generation to the next by parents, neighbors and teachers, are now told by corporations with “something to sell as well as to tell.” Brands, products, fashions, celebrities, entertainments, the very spectacles that surround the production of culture, are now our culture.

Our role is mostly to listen and watch-and then, based on what we have heard and seen, to buy.

A free, authentic life is not possible in America today. We are being manipulated in the most insidious way. Our emotions, personalities and core values are under siege from media and cultural forces too complex to decode. A continuous product message has woven itself into the very fabric of our existence.

Most North Americans now live designer lives: sleep, eat, sit in car, work, shop, watch TV, sleep again. I doubt there’s more than a handful of free, spontaneous minutes anywhere in that cycle.

Smile Button Culture

The human spirit of prideful contrariness and fierce independence has been oddly tamed. We have evolved into a smile-button culture. We wear the trendiest fashions, drive the best cars industry can produce and project an image of incredible aff1uence-cool people living life to the hilt.

Behind that happy mask is a face so ugly it invariably shocks the hell out of my friends from developing countries who come to visit, expecting the giddy Americana depicted on TV and finding instead a horror show of disconnection and anomie.

Our mass media dispense a kind of Huxleyan “soma.” The most powerful narcotic in the world is the promise of belonging. And belonging is best achieved by conforming to the prescriptions of America™. In this way a perverted sense of cool takes hold of the imaginations of our children. And thus a heavily manipulative corporate ethos drives our culture.

The Facade of Cool

Cool is indispensable, and readily, endlessly dispensed. You can get it on every corner (for the right price), though it’s highly addictive and its effects are short-lived. If you’re here for cool today, you’ll almost certainly be back for more tomorrow.

American cool is a global pandemic. Communities, traditions, cultural heritages, sovereignty, whole histories are being replaced by a barren American monoculture.

Living in Japan during its period of sharpest transition to a western way of life, I was astonished by the speed and force with which the American brand took hold. I saw a culture with thousands of years of tradition behind it vanquished in two generations. Suddenly, high school girls were selling themselves after class for $150 a trick so they’d have cash to buy American jeans and handbags.

The Earth cannot support the lifestyle of the cool hunting American-style consumer. We have sought, bought, spewed and devoured too much, too fast, too brazenly, and now we’re about to pay.

Killing the Planet

Economic “progress” is killing the planet. This did not fully hit home for me until nightmarish environmental stories suddenly appeared on the news: acid rain, dying seals in the North Sea, medical waste washing up on New York beaches, garbage barges turned away from port after port, and the discovery that the milk in American mothers’ breasts had four times the amount of DDT permitted in cow’s milk.

To people like me, for whom time had always seemed like a constant, eternally moving train which people got on and, seventy years later, got off, it was the end of innocence. The premonition of ecocide — planetary death — became real and it terrified me. It still does.

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