I have been reading that all the successful people are expert multitaskers. They have many habits that allow them to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. This makes them more efficient and performance oriented. But I read an article today which started some thought processes in my mind. Multitasking of current days includes checking WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, during working hours. The article even says that this multitasking is affecting the GDP of the nations. People are wasting to 1 to 1 ½ hour from their working time on WA/FB/INST. Initially, I doubted these figures either way. I thought these figures could be larger or smaller. In large organizations the sites like FB/Instagram are blocked and hence cannot be accessed. But with large numbers using Smartphones one does not really need Computers to access these sites. In some organizations, people from a department are spread all over the country and they are travelling. They form WhatsApp groups and officially use them for keeping in touch with each other. My experience these days is that I get fastest response for my WhatsApp messages in comparison with any other mode of business communication!
The figure of 1 to 1 ½ hour is not the actual time spent but when your thought processes are broken while working, by using social media, people lose the link. So, getting back to groove plus actually checking social media may add to this figure of 1 to 1 ½ hour! This is a real menace and the society at large will have to find a solution. People use their cell phones for work, so banning them at work is not possible. Organizations can say that if you are using company phone then use it for work. How do you keep track if one has used WA for official purpose or personal needs? People will simply use dual SIM card cell phones and have WA on personal SIM! Enough of work related complications but what about personal life and social media?
There is story of a young couple, very much in love, they got engaged to be married. Next day they went for cup of coffee in a Bistro! Instead of looking into each other’s eyes, they were looking at the screens of their own cell phones! If you don’t have the urge to look into each other’s eyes at this stage, when will you do it? With the new gadgets and newer media our lives have become different. Is multitasking really important at home? Can we not live without it? To some extent it is essential, but I feel that we are going overboard. The other day my grand daughter Rhea, all of four years old, was doing some painting, she loves it let me assure you! While painting she was humming an old Kishore kumar song, “Ye Ratein, Ye Mausam nadika kinara!” (The choice of song is again a surprise, courtesy her Mumma!) Jaya was sitting by her, just attending to her! Maybe she was skimming through a newspaper, nothing more serious! Suddenly there was a ding on Jaya’s cell phone and she had received an e mail. She quickly read it and was thinking of the reply! Immediately Rhea said, “Aaji will you look at cell phone later? Can you help me do the painting better?” Rhea was doing perfectly all right in her painting but she realized that Jaya’s mind was a bit distracted. She did not like it. A child can put her demand bluntly but as we grow older we become more courteous and don’t demand full attention.
Same things happen in husband and wife relationship too! Can’t they give each other 100% distraction free attention for some time during the day? Same things can happen with friends too, for that matter in any relationship. We tend to give gadgets and social media more importance than the person. This type of distraction leads to different consequences in different relationships. I remember ages back, I was called by Managing Director of company for business discussions. I reached on time was ushered in his cabin. In a few minutes we were both served piping hot coffee and boss was speaking on his cell phone, very important stuff about his Rotary Club activities. He finished his call in 15 minutes. Before he could apologize to me, (I was naïve and thought that he would apologize!) the phone rang again and another 15-minute call discussing more socially important things. When the third phone call started after one-minute break, I signaled to him that I wanted to use the washroom. I walked out of his cabin and sat in my car to drive back to my office. Half an hour later his secretary called just as I was settling down in my office chair. Probably after two more rounds of calls, our friend realized that I had left. I had taken a decision to stop doing business with them and managed to do it smoothly within six months.
We can take such decisions in business, at least sometimes! But what can we do in personal life, with spouse, with friends, with relatives. One cannot take divorce, one cannot break long friendships! So how do we find the golden mean? The children are usually open as well as blunt. This was displayed by Rhea’s telling Jaya to pay attention to her. What she expected of Jaya is an opening of “Trust Fund” so large that there never will be any deficit. I have used the Simile between the “Trust Fund” and “Trust” she expected from Jaya. Apparently, it is such a small demand, but we have made things difficult for ourselves. We don’t give “100% free time” to each other! We keep on doing so called multitasking of looking for stuff on social media! While on my way to office there are always some people who stop side by side at traffic signals. The moment they stop, they take out their cell phones and start looking at WA/FB/Inst. There are about four signals on the way, each taking about ¾ minutes to reach. What important messages keep on coming every ¾ minutes? Can’t messages wait till you reach your destination? A person may have something very important going but how almost all must see their cell phones at each signal? Driving carefully in traffic is important, cell phone causes a distraction.
Friends I strongly suggest that today’s social media attack is like a terrorist situation. We cannot stop the real terrorist attack, but we can always avoid social media attack by initially reducing and then trying eliminating trust deficit that gets created in relationships. Why not think of giving blank signed cheque in the relationship which is indicative of 100 % attention? Rhea’s of this world will tell you on your face that you are not attentive but others will not!