Home > Vivekananda and Vedanta > Doing one thing at a time…

Doing one thing at a time…

October 1, 2012

It is indeed amazing to see how people are constantly rushing ahead with their lives. All of them seem to be in such an undue haste. Very few actually stop, take a pause and ask themselves why they are in such a hurry. It seems as though man is engaged in a race all his life. And in order to get a lot of things done, one usually ends up in doing many things at the same time. My life has also been no exception. In order to constantly stay at the top, we are taught from our childhood that doing many things simultaneously is a virtue and something that we need to train ourselves to do. One of the favourite management jargons today is ‘multi-tasking’. People who cannot do this are considered to be incompetent and lacking in the skills that today’s world demands.

Swami Vivekananda was a person who spoke about the virtue of focusing our energies on taking up one task and doing it well. He saw the way to success as something that was born out of a task where one paid attention to not just the end but also the means. For him, quality was not merely a destination to be reached, but a constant process of manifesting one’s inner divinity. His famous words were, “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, and every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success…” This is something that we need to consciously teach ourselves to do. In the name of efficiency, many of us actually fritter away our energies in multiple directions without giving a thought to how effective we are.

Giving our full attention to one idea at a time is also something that the world of leadership is recognizing today. Experts are coming to the conclusion that good leaders are the ones who give their complete attention and energy to undertaking a task and this is achieved by these leaders constantly operating from the realm of the present. They are neither weighed down by the burden of the past or the uncertainty of the future. Living and operating in the present enables them to give every bit of their time and effort to the task on hand and this helps them become successful. These are also the leaders who eventually develop the capacity to undertake diverse activities, but they are always doing one thing at a time. This differentiates them from the world of multi-taskers who have come to believe that one needs to be doing multiple things at the same time. Giving our complete self to whatever we are doing not only helps us in completing the activity successfully, but also is spiritually elevating. It provides us the platform to experience the oneness of existence by becoming one with the task that we are accomplishing. And in this oneness, we can truly understand and relate to the central message of the Bhagawad Gita of not becoming unduly attached to the fruits of our action.

Kannada version in Prajavani (11-Oct-12)

Balu

  1. October 2, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Thanks for this post, Balu.

    When we multi-task, we are context switching. Every switch has its overhead. Unless there is idle time for us in the process, multi-tasking would affect quality and satisfaction. In most of the multi-tasking, mind and body are strained – may it be talking on the phone while driving, looking at the computer screen while listening to a colleague, glued on to music while reading … we do not get anything right when we do more than one at a time.

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