Regarding Kevin Rafferty’s Sept. 25 article, “The limits of multitasking“: There was a time when I used to regret that I am pretty inept at multitasking. I tried to get with it, but not without sometimes hilarious and usually failed results. I grew out of trying to multitask all the time, although it spills out into my reading habits from time to time.
When I start reading too many different things at the same time, after a few days I often realize that I can’t remember what I was reading and why. Due to the lifestyles we have these days, it is important to review and take stock of our lives from time to time and take action if required. However, unless we change society, how we work and our ways of thinking, I am afraid that, to a large extent, multitasking cannot be avoided.
Meditation helps. When one starts meditation, a thousand thoughts disturb the mind, mostly about those things that one needs to do. They become a strong force trying to defeat the very purpose of meditation. One has to learn to switch off and stay focused. Yoga meditation teaches one to focus on some symbol or, as in Japanese Zen, on “nothing.”
Rafferty’s article also reminded me of waiting in a queue at the post office. In India I used to feel frustrated about the long waits despite few people being in the queue. It was another matter after a similar thing happened many times in this remote corner of efficient Japan. The first time I left after waiting awhile, as I knew the post office in the city would take care of my request very quickly. But there have been other times when I have waited patiently and observed the post office staff with amusement.
They move around so much. They shake their hands, reconfirm things several times as is the norm in Japan — I have no problem with this part of the operations and very much appreciate it — and go back and forth for simple tasks such as receiving a parcel.
Sometimes there is confusion and another person is called upon to assist. What’s amazing is how much bustle there is for so little work done! Although customers are dealt with one by one at the post office counter, I wonder how the stressful multitasking of their daily job affects the otherwise courteous and helpful staff.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.