Just Do One Thing

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Have you ever heard of Ignacy Paderewski? He was the Prime Minister of Poland in 1919, but before that he was a piano player. More than just a piano player, he was a piano sensation. He packed concert halls across the US during a grueling tour, performing 107 concerts in 117 days. The papers talked about “Paddymania.” Paderewski could not have wrapped his mind around the concept of multi-tasking. He was a man of singular focus—often stopping a piano recital if people were talking. He would say, “I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation… so I am going to stop for awhile to allow you to continue talking.” He also explained, “Whatever I happen to be doing at the moment is the most important thing, whether playing Chopin or peeling an orange.” Or serving his country as Prime Minister years later. There can be no doubt—we are at our best when we focus. That’s the topic of Charity Singleton’s article at recently on multitasking. In her article she cites scientific research that shows “multitasking actually impairs one's cognitive ability similarly to drunkenness.” Yikes. In a world filled with distraction and noise, everything seems to conspire against us, preventing us from finding focus. Even when the maestro is playing, we can’t seem to stop and listen. Charity has a simple solution, and it is the same solution Ignacy Paderewski offered a century before multitasking was a problem. Just do one thing at a time. Paul put it this way: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The world around us says do more, do it faster, do it all at the same time. Every moment is more than just an opportunity to be productive. It is a breath. It is a heartbeat. During the afternoon, it is photons from the sun that have traveled 93 million miles to land on my face and make my eyes squint. At night, it is the light from stars, squeezing past the light pollution at the end of journeys they began thousands and millions of years ago. In one moment, I catch them above and pretend they are part of a celestial archer, Sagitarrius. They are a great conspiracy of light from the universe, some traveling for 60,000 years from their star cluster before meeting with 24 other objects in the sky, and I point for my son and say, "Look, it's Sagitarrius, the archer." Just do one thing at a time. Photograph, "Piano Jazz" by Ramon Perez, used under a Creative Commons license.