In this modern world, we are expected to be a multi-task person to accomplish different goals efficiently. Take myself as an example, being an PhD student in engineering, I’m expected to supervise three master plus one visiting PhD students, act as a research assistant for two to three research projects annually, write at least three manuscripts per year, and be a reviewer for several journals and conferences. That is only my academic part of PhD life, quite occupied yet full and enjoyable to me. However, being multi-task does not mean you should complete all things at once (e.g. one day), rather at an extended time period (e.g. one semester). You only have one pair of hands, and focusing on too many tasks simultaneously will lead to an overload on your brain. In the end, you probably could fail in all tasks. The wise choice should be focusing on each task one at a time and finishing them successively. For me, I tend to evaluate my current mood and energy and choose a suitable task to start with.
However, things are always easy said than done, especially in a world full of technologies. Advancement of technologies do enhance our efficiency greatly via, as Clive puts it, “infinite memory” in this digital era. Still, we are constantly exposed to excessive data flow and may get lost in between. For example, searching for a suitable topic for scholarly essay can end up as one hour chatting with friends on social media. Even for myself, I may check emails or twitter periodically when confronting a difficult task like writing a manuscript. Distraction is only one side of the evil, and I should say plagiarism has never been so easy with the Internet as well. Searching a similar topic or answer can be completed within a couple of clicks, and nobody is watching when you do “copy and paste”. Clive brings about this challenge on when should we not to use the “digital thinking tools” and just rely on traditional ways of thinking and technologies (e.g. books and paper). I do not have direct answer at this moment, but I believe we should start practicing our next generation to be able to focus on one particular task.
Personally, I benefit a lot from my parents. When I was in elementary school, my mom always asked me to finish all homework before turning on the TV, and my father tended to jog with me in the morning before one day began during summer vacation. I was also told to concentrate on eating the food instead of talking or watching TV to avoid biting my tongue or dropping the food on the table/ground. Gradually, I get better towards different interference when doing tedious work and try to be more efficient. Living in this digital era, we definitely cannot abandon using advanced technologies, and thus we need to evolve our ways when taking best advantage of them. It takes time to master the trick to efficiently harness the power of technologies to deal with a specific task, and success always comes from more practice.