Multi-tasking: a Cautionary Tale

I poured boiling water on my hand the other day. Not on purpose, I hasten to add. I was filling a hot water bottle (those cosy winter nights) while at the same time trying to nudge a kitten out of the way with my foot. Things wobbled. Grip loosened. And it was sore.

As I stood for ages with my hand under cold water, I realised that I’ve been doing this a lot lately: multi-tasking. It feels like a clever thing to do but apparently our brains don’t like it at all. We can do some things at once, like walking along and talking to someone, but if we try to do anything more, we end up confused, slow and incompetent. 

If you’re watching a film and hear a beep from your phone, for instance, your brain will become distracted (even if you don’t reach for the phone) as it wonders what the notification could be. Email from your boss? eBay item update? New Twitter follower? And so it goes. Until we have to wind back a few minutes on the film to catch up. We just can’t do two different things at once, not well at any rate. 

The world is busy and the flood of information just keeps coming; most of it pretty negative these days. So I’ve turned off notifications on my phone and am trying to have just one day a week with no screens (this means no news or doom scrolling either). I’m also telling myself to concentrate on one task at a time before moving on to the next thing. Already I can feel myself becoming lighter. It probably won’t be long until I’m eschewing electricity altogether and using candles instead. 

I’ll add it to my list. One thing at a time remember.