The Truth about Multi-tasking.

Let’s get it going, and there I go with hitting the blunt buzzer. Trigger warning: You will not like what you read. But I’ll say it anyway, because I’m nice like that (note my atrocious sarcasm).

The truth about multi-tasking is that it is a blatant lie. Let the studies reign, let the beginnings begin, let the scientists lose their good strands of hair, but the truth shall triumph, and that is that multi-tasking isn’t really a thing. Rather it is one of those things that you knew that it was an absolute wrong thing to do, but you do it anyway, and end up convincing yourself that it is indeed true. To me it is just an illusion, that I wish was true. But some things are too good to be true.

Truthfully, here I am not a layman (or a laywoman? Feminist much?), I have got studies to back it up, and my horrible experience with it. The psychologists have done an extensive research in this field, and have come up with contradictory theories, however the one which seems to be rigid and highly-agreed upon is that multi-tasking is actually scientifically, soulfully, spiritually and naturally not possible. And I deliberately did not use the word ‘impossible’ because some saint who would be reading this would immediately pounce to argue that nothing in this world is impossible, because the word impossible itself says ‘I’m possible’. And I believe in that, because in a unicorn world, opinions are highly appreciated and accepted, we just don’t live upon it. Before I go off the loop, let me get back.

So what’s really multi-tasking?

Multi-tasking refers to the act by which you perform multiple tasks at a time, whether it be chatting with your friend while studying, or texting your boss while working (who does that? I did), or scrolling through your social network while you work. And some of us have this habit of hearing something while working/writing. I personally did that because I didn’t want to let my mind wander, as ironic as that sounds. So everyday before I begin writing, I go to my favorite space on the internet – YouTube, and click on the Arabic Nasheed (Islamic Songs)/Songs playlist. Arabic because I didn’t understand the lyrics, and in that way I wouldn’t contemplate upon the beautiful words that the artist sings. And why did I listen when I didn’t want to know? Because I had this illusion that the beats (although Nasheeds hardly have any) would keep my mind on track and make me work ferociously fast.

Guess what? It worked! But not for the reasons you think. I was quite a nincompoop to have understood this only later. I thought it was the background tune that made me work faster, but absolutely false. Rather I ended up focusing at times on the Arabic words, and try to practice my mastery in deciphering the incoherent words. And even if the artist was merely humming, I would be flabbergasted by how a human throat could hum so well, and have a voice as such. Nevertheless, the trains of the world may stop running but not the one within.

The reason as to why I worked faster was that when I began to work, the inception stage was backed with an ample amount of energy. I loved working, I loved the sense of productivity, and I loved the fact that I woke up in an early morning to do something for the world. But sometimes love is short-lived, just like in any other relationship, it takes efforts to keep the spark alive. The tune had been running in the background both at the beginning and forty five minutes later too, but after forty five minutes of pressing the keys till they bled, I didn’t like doing it anymore. If I could write 100 words in 2-3 minutes at the beginning, I’d take half an hour to complete a 400 word write-up after forty five minutes have passed by (I write multiple articles in one go, so that gives an idea). In other words, the productivity declined in an unprecedented rate. Even multi-tasking didn’t work.

To keep the spark alive, it takes two things: no distractions and no constant working. You need to take a short break every once in a while to revive your energy for greater productivity. If you can nap, then that works great too, but there are some of us who would rather hibernate than nap. Because some of our minds have got the definitions totally wrong, you see.

After learning my lesson, I stopped playing the playlist. I typed to the sound of my keys sinking, and to the pigeons rattling in the split air conditioner, which was very creepy. I had to take a 5 minutes break after every 15 minutes, and eventually took 5 minutes break once in half an hour.

That is my story, and there are others who text while studying, and working. Let me tell you my friend, that is one easy way to go downhill, so really, stop convincing yourself that you’d score great anyway with that habit on. By not doing it, you’ll do better than that, and life is all about being better.

I’m going to be quite an American, and pull out stats and conclusions from the research undertaken by the big brains of the earth that prove that multi-tasking is impossible, rather switch-tasking is (dear saint, these are not my words): ”so-called multitasking is neither effective nor efficient. These findings have demonstrated that when you shift focus from one task to another, that transition is neither fast nor smooth. Instead, there is a lag time during which your brain must yank itself from the initial task and then glom onto the new task. This shift, though it feels instantaneous, takes time. In fact, up to 40 percent more time than single tasking – especially for complex tasks”. (Source: American Psychological Association, Sub-source: Psychology today).

Multi-tasking is possible when you know to do one task very well, that is without thinking at all, and the other is something that you haven’t got a hang of yet, or when the other activity is of the same nature as former too. For example, walking while listening to music, or driving while listening to music, or even in my very own example, I could write a few sample articles while listening to people talk and while conversing because I have written the same one about a hundred times.

With all that said, I’d grant you leave after offering a few ways to increase your productivity and be efficient workers rather than excellent multi-taskers (which is a myth, just saying).

  • When you work or study, put your phone on the airplane mode, or keep it somewhere where you can’t see it for the next few hours.
  • If your work is on the computer, close all the other unnecessary tabs that are opened up on your browser. Example: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or whatever. (I rhyme too!)
  • Split your tasks into how many ever small tasks that you think is possible for you to work on. Split your hour of work into two or four, however you feel comfortable. Take breaks for a few minutes while you work.
  • Switch off the notifications. If you can’t afford to put your phone on the airplane mode, then switch off the notifications, as they help a tonne to keep you focused.
  • Stay positive. Before you do anything, do not cuss the task. Rather, you need to believe that you are truly going to make a change and that you are exactly where you need to be.
  • Have an ambiance that gives hope. Whether you are that sticky note person, or scented candle one, decorate your surroundings with what you like.
  • If you work from home, then avoid working on bed when you are prone to sleep. Working on bed is great when you are sick or if you have just woken up from a good sleep, but otherwise, it is a total no-no.

And that is a wrap! And dear multi-taskers, I’m sorry to have busted your bubble, but that is the truth. You are a switch-tasker. It is quite alright if you are still convinced that you are excellent in multi-tasking, who knows God must have Blessed you with such an ability that many do not have?

Have a good day, and stop fooling yourself if you are convincing that texting your friend while studying is making you score better or anything of the sort! Keep smiling, being kind and stay positive!

Yours Mindeartly,

With Salaam,

Aara.

Of Fallacies and Sunk Costs.

Being a human is hard, let alone, being an irrational one. Living life is not really the easiest thing to do, and once one enters into the phase of adulthood, things do get complicated. Sure, a peaceful stance in life is attainable, but things are never going to be easy-peasy! It all gets hard once in a while, especially, when you believe that you suck at making good decisions.

Decisions aren’t made pertaining to pre-existing guidelines, no single route or plan works for all. We all are different, with unique cognitive and emotional abilities, and most importantly, we all have got different stories. The element of Qadr (predestination) is the most crucial factor of our lives that basically modulates and controls everything that happens in our lives, but only after you have an in-depth understanding of it will you able to call a truce with it. Until then, many would throw in statements such as ‘fighting against fate’, ‘It’s time to rewrite the fate’ and so on. Hold up, you can’t do either of them. Qadr isn’t in your hands, you were created from dirt, and this beautiful story of yours was written eons before your birth. So no, you can’t fight against it by any worldly means.

The theory of ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy’ isn’t a new one, it has been around for quite some time. However, now is the time for us to learn about it more than ever before. Sunk costs are the costs that you have paid in the past, and it cannot be recovered by any means. No matter what you do, when you pay for it, you won’t get it back. This is one of the major elements in Economics, as the world tends to evolve holding the concept of sunk costs as it’s crux.

However, shoving Economics aside, let’s get to the essence. So what is this whole thing about sunk cost fallacy? Here comes the psychological aspect of this theory. The fallacy of sunk costs refers to the fallacies that you create once you have paid the sunk cost. Imagine this, you have been hearing about this super-duper horror movie lately, and you decide to take a chance and go to the cinema. You buy a twenty dollar ticket for it, halfway into the movie, you realize that you abhor the movie! Horror movies were never your thing, but you went over to watch because although you wouldn’t like to admit it, you didn’t want to be seen as the awkward one, and two because you were generally curious. Since it was a talk of the town, you just couldn’t hold back. But now that you are at it, you have watched an hour out of the two-hour long movie, and you just can’t hold up anymore. But you still do, because deep down you fear missing out on something crucial. You presume that there might be something excellent coming up, and also you hate the idea of wasting the past one hour for nothing. So you decide to invest one more hour on the movie that you hate, and in the end, you still regret watching the movie, even though you thought something nice could come up.

The sunk cost here is the twenty dollar bill you paid and the one hour you spent watching it, the fallacy is that you convinced and consoled your brain that the gains that you would get by watching the movie are going to be much better than the loss.

The aversion to loss and your fear is one thing that makes your brain to spindle a fabricated reality that doesn’t even make sense! You hate it, you are free to not do it, you are living your life for yourself, yet you fear missing out on something good because everyone is saying that you should do it, and not doing it would make you seem like a brute or socially awkward human being.

While investing in a movie does not seem like a big deal, the fallacy of sunk costs plays a huge role in many of the major decisions that we make in life, such as education, job, and relationships. Are you a university student who absolutely hates what you are doing at the moment? Or do you know anyone in your class, even though you are in the third year, who hates the major but still is doing it because they simply refuse to give up after coming this far? If you are a person who is on this stance and is willing to grit your teeth until just one more year goes by, then you have fallen prey to the fallacy of sunk costs like many others. In fact, we all have at least once in our lifetime.

The crux of the matter is that we are emotionally invested in the things which we have invested our time and efforts over the course of many years. Suppose, you have set yourself to do engineering because you were pressurized, three years into it, you find yourself depressed to the core, but you are so emotionally invested in it that you can’t see what you’d gain by quitting, rather the losses. You would imagine yourself being yelled at by family, being frowned by the society, or even ending up jobless. However, if you quit and do what you always wanted to do, the right and the closest thing to your heart, chances are for you to end up living a way better life, but we humans are cowards. Our aversion to loss forces us to lend our ears to all the whispers of the society, that we end up doing what we hate. But it’s not just external pressure that would force you to keep doing what you don’t want to, sometimes, the pressure tends to be internal.

Suppose, you order 5 oriental entrees that you know you wouldn’t be able to finish. But you order all of them, and try to finish it all off, clean and neat because you fear that the food, or more specifically, the money you paid for it being ‘wasted’. Rather, you can make a rational decision to order lesser the next time, or get the food packed to give it to someone. Here, self-delusion plays a huge role, you end up convincing that you must own up to your decision and just live the moment no matter how bad it is all going to make you feel later on.

In the end, the question remains, how do I not fall prey to sunk costs fallacy? Also, incorporating the teachings of Islam, how to stay safe and happy, and make bearable decisions?

It all starts with learning yourself. You need to realize that you are living for yourself, and not for anyone else. Sure, when it comes to minor and major things in our life, people will always tend to throw in their opinions. They would ask you to take up medicine when you hate biology. Your peer group may insist you to try smoking just once, or do something ‘fun’ (NOT), when in actuality that doesn’t seem to give you peace at all. Before you make a decision, ask yourself if you would be okay with it and if it is righteous enough. While not listening to the family pressure in taking up a major that you hate, or accepting a proposal that you think wouldn’t work out displease them in the short-term, in the long-term, it would only benefit them and you.

There are millions of students around the world who are depressed because they are just not happy. And there are others who went on living their lives with undiagnosed depression and ended up ruining their lives and the lives of their dependent ones in the long-term. Also, investing in something that one is impassionate about can render them jobless, because they basically have a degree, with perhaps an E. Or worse, no practicable knowledge or skills.

So choose what you want to do wisely, also let not your emotions be the only factor, look for logical reasoning. And consult the right people for guidance, but make the decision for yourself on your own. However, if you have chosen a path, and find yourself unsatisfied, here is what you should do:

If it hasn’t gotten better over the years or after several attempts. If you absolutely loathe it, and it brings nothing good to you, then maybe you should cut the emotional chord that you have attached to it. Whether it be a friend who has gone deep into the dark woods and is proving to be absolutely toxic or your college major that is depressing you to the core, give it up if the cons weigh more than pros.

Make a list. Write down the benefits that you attain from it, and the negativity that it brings into your life. Blow up a bubble where only you exist when you do this, along with your religious rulings, beliefs, and values. Go on with it if it brings you more good than bad, give it up if not. Short-term displeasure of those around you should weigh lesser than your long-term regret and depression.

Accept that what had happpened was by God’s Will, and partly due to your false conviction. Past is past, try to change what you can at the moment. Don’t invest any further even if you have come a long way. Found your friend being an absolute brute even though you were friends for over ten years? Cry over it if you want, feel it, but don’t invest anymore time if they are being snobbish and pulling you into the dark pit. Emotional investment hurts, especially when you know it was all in vain.

Better now than never, perhaps it is time for you to quite the things that you can, and those which are in your power! You know what brings the goodness in your life, so invest rightly! If at all, changing something is beyond you, and there is absolutely no way, then begin to love it, and see the good. How can that be done? Perhaps a post for another day.

With Salam,

Aara.

 

Frozen? Here is how you Defreeze!

Today had been like any other normal day, perhaps quite sluggish for me, but nevertheless good enough to boost my cognitive abilities. Alhamdulillah (All Praises to the God). I was reclining on the headboard of my bed and trying with all my might to grasp whatever was written in the psychology text. I finally did, and there he was in all his glory, Carl Rogers, putting up his humanistic theory. He stated that the narrower the discrepancies are between the ideal self and the current state of one’s ‘self’, lower are the chances for one to feel unhappy.

It did strike a chord. Or perhaps pushed a few buttons on the brain.

The humanistic theory happens to be my favorite, leaving to rest the other negative factors involved in it. I love the way how it focuses on ‘self’ and gives humans a higher purpose to live by. But however, this also evoked me to reflect on the current state of us, humans. I mean, look around you. Isn’t it quite horrifying to know that so many people around us just do not like the way they live, or who they are? The root cause may be different for all, but many of us are extremely sad people because we have got large discrepancies between our current ‘self’ and the ideal’self’. We are simply not happy with the person we are at the moment. And it is alright! It is good for you to not settle, but is it okay for you to despair over the person you are?

If at all, you do despair, what do you plan to do to make yourself feel better? Many of us are stuck at this point, we simply do not know where to begin! But let me break it down to you, distressing over the person you are isn’t going to help. What would really help you to feel alright with you are is to accept. At any point of time, the only thing that would make you feel better about everything is to embrace the quality of acceptance.

Is life taking you to this cranky road where heaps of rubble are the only thing you see? Accept that it is what it is and that you (yes YOU) can make it so much better. Caught a cold this morning? Accept that you are sick, and there are certain things you can and can’t do at this point. Despairing how you can’t gobble two buckets of ice cream at this moment won’t just help you at all.

I recently moved to a different city after my family and I had lived in the former city for decades. It was hard, extremely hard since we did not have a choice. Everyone took it quite harshly too, as we couldn’t actually accept that it was happening. Now many of us were constantly complaining how none of this whole thing is alright, but once we learned to accept that this is what is happening and we have to live with it, things became easier. We no longer were in denial, we accepted that it was painful, but also believed that change is inevitable. If things are horrible, don’t be in denial and think of those days when things were brighter and how you could NEVER go back to it.

What you need to do, now that things are horrible are:

  1. Accept that things are not good at the moment, know that this is happening. Live in the moment! This needs to be stressed, ‘live in the moment’ mantra is often emphasized when one needs to feel happy and blissful. But no, it is extremely important to live right there when things aren’t going fine. Don’t dwell in the past.
  2. Accept that YOU have got this! You can make it all better. Believing in God motivates me to pray harder for what I want. But also, it pushes me to work to make it all better. You have got the power in you to change how you feel about it. Someone whom you love has left you all alone? Believe in yourself, you are more than the person’s friend or lover. You are a separate being with the entire universe within you. Have hope, look forward to a day when everything will be alright only when you are willing to work for it. Know that you can be that awesome person you wanted to be without them by your side too!
  3. Accept that it all takes work. Now here is the thing. If you want something, you need to know that without efforts, nothing is going to work out. It is all hard work, but the reward of it as compared to the efforts are sublime! It takes work to be content, and you need to know this.
  4. Listen to your heart and your mind. Don’t ignore either of them. Rationalize your feelings. Synchronize the efforts of the two. Accept that it takes two to do great things, even when it concerns your inner-self.
  5. Know that, right at this moment, you can choose to be happy. Nothing stops you from being content with what you have. Yes, it is painful. It might be terrible too. Accept that it is okay to feel sadness. It is an emotion that is needed. It is just not okay to whine and cry for years and months over things that weren’t in your control. Things happen, you are not the one to be blamed all the time. You need to step up the game if at all you fall into the darkened pit. Because you are stronger than anyone else who can pick you up!
  6. Accept help! When people offer to help you, let them in. Just be careful to not leave the entirety of happiness in their hands. They are merely humans. Be content with thyself, while cherishing them. But don’t let go of that part of your heart that should only belong to God. That place is special, and any mortal can destroy it if given to them.

So that is about it. Going through a few things, the only thing that made me feel better was to accept things for what it is and to thank God for all that I have. Hope that helps you too! Would love to hear from you, why don’t you let me know your thoughts on this? Also, how do you cope up with discrepancies and stressful situations?

 

Connect-ions

Connect-ions

Hey there!

Welcome to the world within a world aka my own mind palace. And no, If you are thinking that Sherlock Holmes’ mind palace has got anything to do with my blog, then you can’t be more wrong. Mind Palace is a beautiful term, that just didn’t have to be given to a mnemonic device or technique. I mean, what is actually wrong if I turned out to be a little different and make my mind a palace to live in heartily?

It has been told that we live most of our lives within us. And maybe, that is more than true for an introvert. I’m not a self-proclaimed introvert, in fact, I think it’s best to call myself an ambivert. But being unapologetically HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I tend to live most of my life in my mind. My mind is a piece of creation that just NEVER shuts up! Now, being surrounded by nothing but silence, I had to tell the world the ideas that are being incubated in my mind periodically. I am deeply interested in human psychology, spirituality and the beautiful religion I embrace – Islam, hence, my posts here will mostly pertain to those genres.

I’d love to give you a glimpse of my mind that craves to uplift others and help them adore their own ‘self’. Self-love is one thing that most of the people I’ve met are struggling with. I know where you are coming from, and I would love to help you out on this journey to embrace yourself! This will be a place where I’d seek your ideas and you will learn mine. After all, what’s better than having good vibes around you and intellectual conversations being directed towards one another?

I’m no professional. Every post here is based on my own experience and perhaps a little research. I too am like many, on this journey to find myself, to embrace contentment and please the Lord of the Worlds.

I believe in the deepest connection between the heart and mind. Comprehending and building the right connections between the two, we shall trudge towards a starry sky that is filled with hope, and that we shall for sure (God Willing)!

With your good vibes, I shall thrive.

Yours mindeartly,

Aara.