Stop multi-tasking

What are you doing right now?

I mean, literally, right now.

You’re reading this, and you’re wondering what else you’re doing. I know that much for sure. But what else?

Is the TV on? Are you reading this while drinking a cuppa? Perhaps you have your device on a stand meaning you can even do the washing up while taking in this article.

If that’s you, once upon a time I’d have congratulated you on your evident ability to multi-task. Now I simply say: stop what you’re doing.

When did multi-tasking become equated with success? When did being able to do a dozen things at the same time in the office become synonymous with being a high-flying employee?

That was me. A year or so back I’d be the one completing a task while checking emails, updating social media, earwigging conversations around me, and even finding time to mentally write a shopping list for later in the day.

Now I see that as incredibly unhealthy, a sign of a lack of prioritisation, surprisingly unproductive, and ultimately part of what made my body go ‘pop’ and give up the ghost!

These days, I try hard to avoid multi-tasking. I’m far from perfect at kicking my old habit. But I’m getting better.

The rewards are multiple.

At its most simple, multi-tasking is like keeping loads of apps open at the same time on your phone. They just drain your battery. And when my own body’s battery is so delicate and rarely fully charged, multi-tasking limits what I can do, what I can absorb in terms of information, and how much I can concentrate on or enjoy any given moment.

By doing one thing at a time, I can give it my full attention. It means that task or moment is completed or enjoyed properly, and my battery isn’t taking a big hit.

The distraction of the TV or radio or general noise when I’m writing makes me less effective. Listening to a podcast while doing the washing up means I don’t really fully take in what I’m hearing. You get the idea.

One thing at a time also helps your whole system slow down. The more you’re in the moment, the less you’re worrying about what’s been or what’s to come.

You may not consider yourself a multi-tasker.

If that’s true: congratulations.

But if you’re anything like me, despite believing you aren’t multi-tasking, when you stop and analyse your activities you’ll soon see the nonsense in that belief!

That walk for fresh air wasn’t fully appreciated because I was listening to music instead of taking in my surroundings or the feel of the weather on my face.

That soothing bath wasn’t really that soothing because I kept tending up while watching a drama on my laptop perched on the toilet seat.

That conversation with my other half wasn’t really as focused as it should have been as my attention kept drifting to the multiple choice questions on the quiz show on TV.

I hope you’re reading this with your full attention. No distractions. No interruptions. No ‘second screens’.

Whatever you’re planning to do next, make it genuinely one thing. Give it your sole focus and enjoy the feeling of being in the moment.

Let’s consign multi-tasking to the corporate scrapheap. Here’s to solo-tasking!


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