Multitasking is Bollocks

You heard it here first folks. Actually that’s a total lie, people have been talking about this for ages but now I’m just going to labour the point. There is no such thing as multitasking. Yes, I suppose tapping your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time is sort of multitasking but in terms of actual, useful, vaguely adult activities, doing two or more at the same time cannot be done. With one major caveat. They cannot be done effectively.

Yes, one can talk on the phone, cook, and watch TV in the same temporal moment but there is no way that they can be done with any sort of presence. Hearing how great aunt Mavis is doing, at the same time as lightly frying Chilean sea bass to be served with an aggressive Zinfandel, and taking in the latest twists and turns on Game of Thrones is a recipe for disaster (pun intended). And the problem is it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just doing but thinking about doing that screws us up too.

In the above scenario you wouldn’t really be enjoying talking to great aunt Mavis, you wouldn’t really be enjoying the aromas of the Chilean sea bass, and you wouldn’t really be taking in Season 20 of Game of Thrones. The fact that you’d be doing all ineffectually is a given (I think) but enjoyment, presence, clarity, purpose would all be lacking too. Now think about how often you check your phone and/or email. How often you scroll through Facebook and/or Instagram. Why? Because you’re a human and you’re looking for a bit of dopamine. Bing! Text. Yes! Someone loves me. Dopamine. Ooh email from that place about the thing with free thingamies. Boom! Dopamine. But the problem isn’t that you should be working or spending time with your family, it’s that you’re always thinking about how to get the next hit, and that’s why we can’t multitask (by the way the Freedom app helps a lot with this). Just like a smoker who is unable to concentrate when their nicotine level gets too low. Yes, they’re there with you but mentally they’re having a calming drag on a cigarette.

A lovely friend who owns a wonderful dog named Earl once shared with me a great saying. “When you’re chopping wood, chop wood.” Simples. Ever tried brushing your teeth and trying to get dressed at the same time? Of course you have. Result, bad breath, wrong clothes.

Tomorrow morning, try going through your morning routine without checking your phone. Not once. Until you get to work or at least on your commuter train, don’t check it. Then do each thing you have to do one at a time. Wake-up. Shower. Brush teeth. Have breakfast. Whatever you do, just take it one thing at a time. I promise that you’ll do a better job, have more focus, will feel better about doing it and it will take you about as long as if you tried doing it all at once and may even be faster. When brushing teeth, brush teeth.

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