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Fork in the Road: The need for speed

Credit: IMAGESBYK / ISTOCK / THINKSTOCK

The need for speed surrounds us on a daily basis, but Interrobang's reporter reminds us the importance of slowing down.


Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | September 14th, 2015



Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
The other day as I was driving home from work, a fellow on a motorcycle sped past me weaving in and out of traffic. He was either in a rush or simply showing off, but regardless of his reckless driving, I couldn’t help but chuckle when we ended up side-by-side at the next stoplight. Despite his dangerous driving, he was no further ahead than I was.

I relay this anecdote because this sort of mentality isn’t merely limited to one’s elected mode of conveyance. This story illustrates a much greater phenomenon that affects multiple aspects of daily life in North America.

These days, nearly every job advert and company-building exercise emphasizes the importance of knowing how to prioritize and juggle multiple deadlines and assignments at once, all supposedly in a quest to maximize efficiency and productivity. In other words, jobs are now centred on time management. What’s more is that with our economy in a recession, employees are expected to achieve more with less time and less resources.

Most of us are migrating from one task to another stressed out, sleep-deprived, overworked and underpaid. When we manage to carve out some leisure time for ourselves, exercise is often the last thing on our minds as it’s equated with yet more work; the same can be said about exercise of the mind.

Accordingly, it’s not surprising that we relish in moments of being able to scroll through Facebook because we are so desperate for a means of powering off. Our bodies and minds have become so overburdened that they are functioning akin to mobile devices: always expected to be on and able to retrieve and decode competing incoming bits of data until our batteries are completely depleted.

Although humans are a species who pride themselves on their ingenuity, admittedly, we have yet to uncover a means of creating more time.

Instead, we seek ways to better allot the time we have in an effort to maximize achievement and minimize idleness. The current heralded method of accomplishing this end suggests the secret lies in an ability to hone the skill of multi-tasking.

Sadly, like many promising theories, it ultimately sounds better on paper.

In spite of what countless HR professionals may purport, if your brain’s focus is divided between multiple tasks simultaneously, it is impossible to execute all of said tasks with the same amount of effort, vitality and thoughtfulness.

As a result, even though you may be marking more items off of your daily to-do list, you’re doing so to the detriment of your overall quality of work. In the end, more mistakes certainly don’t help save time.

I’d like to take a momentary return now to my opening story about the biker because after all isn’t multi-tasking a fancy euphemism for what we would all otherwise denote as rushing?

In his case, thankfully he was merely driving at an exponential rate, but had he been driving, texting, arguing with his partner on the phone and looking for the right tune to listen to, all while trying to program his GPS.

The likelihood of him making a critical mistake grows with each added task. His multi-tasking, in this case, could very well result in a multiple car pileup or even death.

Rather than put your work standards or, in some cases, your safety at risk ask yourself “Will not accomplishing this task matter in a day, a month or a year?”

In circumstances wherein you have to report to somewhere or someone, they will maintain their own views of what qualifies as a key priority and such matters should be respected.

I understand the need to be fast sort of mentality of HR professionals; in business, it makes sense. In business, the aim is to maximize profits and minimize the expenditures.

How many of us eat chemically modified foods because they are convenient? How many of us attempt to maintain multiple conversations via different media just so we don’t miss out on anything? How many of us are missing out on the moments by focusing too much on the tasks?

Life is not in the tasks that need to be completed, nor the time that is needed to complete them, it’s in the moments when you stop for a breather.

From the encounter with the motorcycle, I learned to slow down, to savour the moments. Just remember, getting ahead is not a one-dimensional journey constituted by crossing off one thing to get to the next. Truly getting ahead requires growth in all dimensions of your being and all dimensions of your life.