英語學習:Multi-tasking與deep focus的取捨

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IT年代,資訊科技發達,電腦、互聯網、e-mail等即時通訊設備的效率愈來愈高,人也需要同步趕上,工作效率要加快,工作方式要改變,機構對員工的要求也提高,人人都像是要七手八臂,一心多用,才算是及格。

近年multi-tasking這個字就十分流行。 Multi-tasking就是同一時間兼顧、處理並完成多項工作。 Multi-tasking需要一心多用。懂multi-tasking的僱員自然特別搶手。老闆要求職員做多一點,又會訓示他們,今時今日不懂multi-tasking,當心會被淘汰。

不重要的work chatter

Multi-tasking的概念大行其道,但multi-tasking真的有大家想像般,立即增加生產力的神奇功效嗎?這亦是愈來愈多人提出的質疑。

Multi-tasking不是同時寫三份報告,或開會時寫報告又同時設計展覽會的平面圖。

辦公室最常見需要multi-tasking的是埋首寫報告或思考處理問題之際,又要回復來自四方八面的電郵和客戶的來電。

William Park在”Should ‘deep focus’ become a central pillar of workplace culture?”(〈「深層專註力」應否成為工作間文化的中心支柱?〉)一文中就說:

The constant ping of messages(訊息) that keep us plugged into work chatter might be doing more harm than good. We feel we must respond – it is about work, after all. But always being switched on means we never have the chance to think deeply. And that is a problem for companies that want to get the most out of their employees.

有些e-mail要回應、或起碼要讀,但卻是不重要的work chatter。 Chatter解閑談。 Plug into解探知。有些人覺得不參與work chatter就會與辦公室內發生的事脫節。

違背思考製造價值

要讀要復的e-mail當然確有與工作有關的。上司發給你的e-mail,你不可以不理,但不斷收發電子訊息,思路就會被打亂。現在,multi-tasking可能被僱主當寶,但真相是什麼?

Some people swear by(極其信賴) multitasking even when we intuitively(憑直覺地) know that our brains struggle to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Psychologists thought that busy multitaskers possessed abnormal control over their attention. But evidence suggests that multitaskers do not have a particular gift for being able to juggle multiple projects.

Juggle解同時拋接幾樣東西的雜耍,亦解調來調去、拋接或同時應付。 Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World的作者Cal Newport說,知識型經濟着重的是用思考製造價值,但現時的工作模式卻背道而馳。

In fact, in many cognitive(認知性的) tasks, heavy multitaskers underperform(表現平平). Our brains have a limited capacity for what they can work on at any given moment. And using tricks to cram(硬塞進去) as much into our working day as possible might be doing more harm than good.

Cal Newport建議linear的工作方式,即做完一樣才做另一樣,這樣員工才可以做到deep focus(深層的專註)。仍要求員工multi-tasking的公司,結果會變得落伍。

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