Listen. Think. Speak. Write.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Too many voices

It’s a busy world. It’s a loud world.  Everyone is talking.  Is anyone listening?  I'm part of the problem. The very notion of a blog epitomizes the issue.  We all want to put our two cents in.  We’ve all got something to say.  

With so many voices trying to be heard, it’s hard to filter all of the information coming out way. Focusing on anything is a challenge so we end up focusing on nothing at all. Information overload causes us to shut down.

One of my colleagues as been promoting the virtues of “single tasking” as a way to focus her time.  At first, I balked at the idea  little.  How could I ever do that? I'm known to have around twenty windows open at a time. I got to thinking, though, sometimes, I’m so overwhelmed by all that I could do that I fail to do anything at all.  Could some form of single tasking help me with this problem?  I decided to try a version of it with my writing.

I’ve repeatedly mentioned all my works in progress, the revisions I have to do, and the other ideas I have for stories. Where do I start? What can I finish? My new approach is to take things one month at a time.  This month, I'm not attempting any new writing.  I am using my coveting writing time for revisions.  Next month, some friends and I are planning our own mini-Nano, so I will be writing new words.  In April, I intend to work on a short story or two that I started a while back.

No, I can't hear all the voices when they come at me at once, nor can I complete every task I add to my to do list. But this form of focusing yields a powerful positive outcome: it gives me permission to ignore other items on my to do list for a period of time.  In turn, that assuages any guilt I may harbor for not working on them.  Before, if I spent more time revising, I'd beat myself up for not writing more.  Now, I can sing the praises of my revision progress guilt-free.

Now, I know we can't apply this principle all the time to everything.  I can't say, "Sorry boss, I'm choosing to tune you out this month in order to focus on my family." However, I can segment my time in a day or a week more clearly so that whatever I'm working on or whomever I'm listening to gets my full attention.

I am pretty sure I'd fail as a full time single-tasker, but in small doses, I'm finding real merit.  Can you tune out the extra voices?


  1. The ones inside or outside of my head? Oh, come on, someone had to say it. Wasn't me, though. It was one of those voices in my head.

    It actually sounds like something I need to try. The multi-tasking is messing with my ability to keep my anxiety under control these days.

    Mini-Nano? Ooo.....

  2. I've been using The Pomodoro Technique to great effect recently. It's essentially a method of single tasking for 25-minute chunks at a time. I've been making tons of progress on my dissertation, although the fiction work has dropped off a bit. :)

    I am covetous of the Mini-Nano...