Somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that the more monitors you have, the better. I don’t know if this comes from some dream I had when I was a kid watching sci-fi movies like Minority Report or from seeing artsy people who do graphic design and video editing. All I know is that I like having a couple of monitors, and I’m okay with the fact that I think in some way it makes me look slightly cooler than I actually am.
When I’m writing I’ll often have multiple tabs available on a browser on one monitor and my article open on my primary monitor – this is the way I’m writing this article now. I thought this was effective in writing because I would be able to write something on my primary monitor, and then if I wanted to research or back-up what I just wrote, I could switch to the secondary monitor. The problem arose that I would switch to a browser and then get sidetracked, and it would take me a while to refocus on my writing.
Peter Bregman, in his book 18 Minutes, says that “[d]oing several things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we’re getting more done. In reality, our productivity goes down by as much as 40 percent, because we don’t – and can’t – multitask.”
There’s plenty of research to show that multitasking is a myth. Our brains are rewarded with a quick change to a new task because new things are exciting to our brain. We also now have the opportunity with technology for our brains to be instantly gratified with almost every whim imaginable on the internet. For those who grow up with multitasking as the norm, their brains actually develop in a way that will make it harder for them to have delayed gratification later on in life: Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction.
There’s something else that I noticed when I write with two monitors – if I come across a roadblock in my writing, I’ll switch to my secondary monitor just to browse around for a bit to get “back on track.” What I’m really doing is avoiding the challenge of writing. I find a way to get out when things get hard.
In this way, change can be debilitating because if we avoid a task when it becomes difficult or unpalatable, we miss the joy of working through a challenge and learning something from the struggle.
I think deep down we know that sticking with a task through struggle is a good thing. The hardest part for me is being confident that what I’m doing is indeed good and worth riding out to the bitter end. The problem with this philosophy, for me, is that I rarely have the tools at hand to determine how things will play out. How can know if I’m better off after completing a task if I don’t push through to see the end result?
We have a unique hope in Christianity that I believe helps us ride out these times of indecision and of regret. James 1:17 reminds us that though things change in our lives, though everything might change in our lives as the shadows change on a cloudy day, God doesn’t change. For Christians this reminds us that God will be on the other side of our task. Please don’t take this as a simple band-aid for your struggle or a trite devotional thought. If you try hard and fail – God will be with you. If you try hard and succeed – God will be with you. God has walked with us through every trial, and He will continue to walk with us through every challenging task.
Take this as permission to do, to fail, to succeed, and to enjoy the hard things God has given you. We can enjoy the challenge because even if we can’t see it, every good and perfect thing comes from God, who does not stop giving us what is good. God even did the hardest thing – He sent His Son to suffer death, to conquer death, so that we might live. God does not give up. Let us stay with the task ahead of us knowing that God isn’t going anywhere.