0108. on quitting multitasking

Multitasking is the enemy.

While I was at University I made a conscious effort to increase my capacity to multi-task, whether this was as simple as playing a video game and watching a television show at the same time, or something more ambitious such as having two conversations at once. I think it comes from two things: firstly, the universal problem; a culture of single-purpose friends, an undesirable offshoot from the age of social networks, and secondly, a personal frustration with my own productivity.

Firstly, the single-purpose friends is a concept taken from Fight Club, but instead of a friend who has a single serving, they have a single purpose. This was more pronounced when I was younger, but it still retains truth today; I will have a friend for talking about films, a friend for talking about politics, a friend for talking about romance, and our interactions and relationship will be stunted by this semi-conscious definition—in the same way that an adolescent group may have “the funny one,” and entertaining a meaningful conversation with them is a rare thing. The second facet is easier to unpack; I have a mental inadequacy when it comes to doing something that I have been told to do. Whether it comes from a misguided mistrust of authority or misdirected masculine pride, it is something that leads my life to be very productive personally and creatively, but lacking in achievements both institutional and social. If I am directed by an authority figure—or in all honesty, even a friend—to research a topic, or complete a task, I will be unwilling to do so, and it will take a great deal more energy than if I had come across the topic myself, or if I had thought the task needed doing independently.

These two problems, each of which could require a counsellor if I was a child of the 00s rather than one of the 90s, make it so that I have a predilection for multitasking, or to put it in a more honest way, an inability to concentrate. Watching a film becomes a background activity as I choose to prioritise Instagram or Snapchat, reading an article—who am I kidding?—reading the first two paragraphs of an article becomes a ten-tab venture into how the material I’m reading fits in with the rest of my life, and what social network would be best for sharing the article to, to more accurately project interests that I clearly do not hold.

So each time I find myself doing two things at once, I will try to ask myself, Would I be doing either of these things if I had to do them by themselves? And if the answer is no, which I imagine it will be much of the time, I will stop doing both of them, as they are not worth my time.

This has been my first go at an article since deciding to blog again last week, and it is a jumbled mess of ideas not fully fledged and not adequately conveyed, but it’s a start! And for clarity, I concentrated wholly on the writing of this article, with only music in the background, and I only checked my phone once—yes, that’s an accomplishment!

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