Giving up multitasking

sneak peak: in praise of doing one thing at a time (and increasing our attention spans in the process) rather than constantly multitasking

Giving up multitasking, imogen molly blog,

Guess who's baaaaaack! Well done, it's me, I am back after an accidental hiatus caused mostly by settling into a new job, partly by a trip to Paris, and partly by Christmas. All very excellent things, I might add, although some more carb-filled than others.

Something else I have been doing recently is (probably not a revelation to anyone else but a bit of a revelation to yours truly): one thing at a time. What? Yes, as simple as it sounds, I have been doing one activity only so that my brain is only trying to focus on that one thing.

For example, I was in a habit of listening to a podcast whilst filling in my journal, or listening to music whilst reading a book, or folding up my laundry (ugh) whilst watching Seven Worlds, One Planet (definitely watch, not as traumatic as expected), or, like right now (oops), eating my breakfast whilst writing a blog post (porridge with protein powder, stewed apple, cacao nibs, alpro Greek-style yog, and agave syrup, in case you were interested).

What this means is that my attention is always divided between two or more things, rather than focusing solely on one. Not only does it take longer to do everything - ironic, since the goal of doing lots of things at once is usually to get them done quicker - but nothing is done ~mindfully~. It also doesn't help the trend that social media is perpetuating, which is that of our attention spans shortening to less than that of a goldfish (although the BBC's More or Less team has picked some holes in that particular piece of viral science).

Regardless of whether our attention spans are shortening or not (sidenote: if you read long-form content, you can train your attention span back up, like a muscle; my archive of blog posts would be a great place to start...), there is a lot to be said for slowing down and doing things one at a time. As it happens, this 'slowing down' will probably help you get everything done a lot more quickly as well.

I'm learning to be comfortable in silence, choosing rather than needing to have the radio on while I get ready in the morning, and tuning in to the sounds around me on my commute rather than listening to something for the sake of listening. I'm learning to appreciate the food I'm eating - I spent enough attention making it that it deserves the same attention when I'm eating it, so I don't need to be reading a book or watching something while I do so, but if I actively want to, then fine. It's not about setting hard and fast rules for ourselves, but rather creating guidelines so that doing lots of things at once, if we want to, becomes an active choice rather than the default.

It might not sound revolutionary; then again, it might. Why not give it a go?


  1. I can only hope that more of your generation start doing the same thing.

    It aids mental wellbeing and makes us all more contented in our lives which has to be good.

    I would refer you to the wonderful poem by W H Davies, which starts; What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.


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