“Did you finish what I asked you to do?” Mom asked.
“Not yet,” her son answered. “I’ve got several things on my plate right now and I’ll get back to it soon.”
“I’d prefer that you take care of one thing at a time and reduce your to-do list in an orderly fashion,” Mom said.
“You’re so old fashioned!” the young man complained. “In today’s world, multi-tasking is the way to go. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it all!”
“You’re right and you’re wrong,” Mom said. “Simple tasks can be juggled and taken care of in no special order. However, when something is difficult or important, then doing one thing at a time is preferred.”
After World War II, there was a marked increase in births in the U.S.A. and the children born during those postwar years were labeled “baby boomers.” A whole generation, raised in simpler times, learned to deal with life’s challenges differently than 21st-century youth. You could say that life was less complicated then and therefore they were able to learn how to “concentrate” for success.
Our Sages teach that the best approach to incorporating positive traits into one’s being is to work on a trait and develop it fully before moving on to the next area of self-improvement. Rabi Akiva said (Baba Kama 91a) to a man who reached the wrong conclusion in a halachic inquiry: “You dove into deep waters for pearls but came up with shards of clay.” Patiently analyzing progress yields a path to successful achievement. Before you move on, be certain you’re not leaving behind a pearl.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
The Orchot Tzaddikim notes that one who performs a mitzvah joyfully receives 1,000 times more reward than someone who acts as though it is a burden! Greeting people is a mitzvah no different than any other. To receive the ultimate reward, it should ideally be done with a smile and with tremendous pleasure! Perhaps the reason there is that much more reward is because the happier you are, the greater effort you expend in performing the mitzvah in the best possible fashion. (Rabbi Ovadiah Mansour, The Power of Hello, p. 63)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.