Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Opposite of Multitasking

I used to think I had a touch of monomania. That is, an obsession with one idea or subject, or an intent concentration on or exaggerated enthusiasm for a single subject or idea. Enough to where I’d become distraught if my productivity was disrupted, causing my environment to feel imbalanced, making it difficult to function normally. In other words, I got uptight.
I’ve come to realize over time that I’m a person who is just passionate—not about everything, but I have specifics that ignite my ticker—and I can really focus on them. The fast-paced society in which I live has taught me to multitask, to juggle gazillions of things at once. Yet this society is not something that makes demands on me as much as I make demands on myself to keep up with everybody else.

When I thought about this the other day, something popped into my mind, a Bible verse, Luke 18:17. “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” This makes perfect sense to me in an allegorized sort of way. Let me explain.

Most children live in ignorance of evil. At least, we hope. They have a single focus on the one they depend on. Life is simple. Their emotions are open and basic. Children don’t really multitask. My young son will often focus on one thing at a time with such concentration that I’d be fortunate to get him to look at me if I called his name.

If children don’t multitask, why do adults? We often say we multitask. Some say we’re experts. However, in the process—and I’m convinced I’m not the only one who has experienced this—we lose a bit of control, operate with a touch of that “scatterbrain syndrome.” For instance, if we take a call while continuing to read something on our computer screen then didn’t catch what the person on the other end of the receiver just said, we have them repeat it and we also have to reread what we’ve just perused. How about we send an email while forgetting to attach the all-important file to it, a document that was the purpose for the email in the first place? Let’s say we’re preparing dinner and stir the pot perfectly on the stove yet forget about the biscuits burning in the oven. Maybe multitasking isn’t in our genes, after all.

I can juggle stuff. I can juggle a lot of stuff. I’ve been conditioned. But I’ve never thought it’s the intended way of life. As in worship in church, I’d prefer to, well, worship, rather than dwell on ten thousand things that can invade my mind at that hour. I desire to recede to a single focus. Focused-tasking. Focused-tasking empowers concentration, reduces stress, and grants the fruit of instant results by seeing one thing accomplished at a time rather than a pile of unfinished business that grows without ceasing.

The opposite of many things I tend to be. One of them is multitasking—although I have tried my share. I currently strive to create an arrangement where I can focus on one thing at a time, yet get it all done, efficiently, instead of bouncing back and forth, up and down, like a ping-pong ball. Who wants smacked upside the head with a paddle? Whack!—this item is due. Whack!—have to finish that first. Whack!—back to the item. Whack!—back again to that. Whack!—back to item. Whack!—back to that. Whack!—item. Whack!—that.

How exhausting. No wonder I hear so many complain of fatigue and illness. “...like a little child…” Such a straightforward phrase with a sole focus, yet I’ve heard people say the simplistic concept is too difficult to comprehend.

Probably because we’re too busy multitasking.

Tessa Stockton is in the midst of make-believe multitasking, while she celebrates the release of her latest novel, suspense/thriller, The Unspeakable.




  1. Tessa, you bring up some interesting points. Just because we're 'capable' of multi-tasking doesn't necessarily make it our best option. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Wonderful post, Tessa.
    Quality not quantity!
    This is just what I need at the moment. Thank you.

  3. Right on! Simplify. Do one thing at a time and then move on.

  4. Thanks, y'all - thanks for commenting. I might need to consider living as a minimalist, too. The idea of that kind of lifestyle is roaming around in my mind. If only I could make it happen and not just dream about it. ; )

  5. @Mandy: Atta girl! Run with it. : )