Healthy Mind

Single-tasking: the new multi-tasking

Live in the moment; that’s what is preached to us every day. Forget the past, forget the future and live in the now. How many of us can actually say that we do this? That we are present, all of who we are, in the ‘moment’?

We are, without doubt, the most advanced age of human-kind yet with thanks to our many technological breakthroughs, genius minds of the 21st century and general fast-paced lifestyle.  We have come a whole 360, evolving from doing one thing at a time to being masters of multi-tasking.

But at what expense?

If we look at each aspect of our life as a tab, how many do you have open right now?

You know what I’m talking about; when you’re trying to write an essay and you have 10 different tabs open with articles, journals, lecture notes and tutorial slides. You write a bit, you stop, you consult one of 10 tabs, maybe 2, find new information, decide to include that but don’t know enough about it. You open another Google tab and spend an hour researching this new material to find that it has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to your essay. You abandon that idea and write a bit more, copy and pasting (changing the structure of the sentence for fear of plagiarism) and repeat the same pattern over and over until the essay, that should have taken 4 hours to write, suddenly takes 12.

And it’s not just academically that our focus and our concentration seems to be divided. Nowadays it seems that we can’t eat with Instagramming, exercise without music, study without Facebook, socialise without Snapchat and a whole, endless list of dual activities.

How is this affecting the way we think, the way we act and the way we see life in general? Instead of doing one thing and doing it really well, to the best of our ability, we’re doing many things half-heartedly reaping little or no satisfaction from them. This in turn has a whole list of possible knock-on effects such as how we rate our own performance levels and abilities and how we value ourselves as workers, friends, daughters, sisters, sons and brothers etc.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could go for a walk, just to walk? Be on the phone to a friend and be able to give them your undivided attention and actually listen? Watch a movie and not have to play, rewind and pause for Snapchat purposes? Not to mention study and instead of spending 20 minutes trying to think of a witty Facebook status ‘Leanne Quinn is feeling like dropping out of college and taking over the world at – Glucksman Library U.L.’ in the hopes of getting a few likes, comments and maybe an invite to lunch to escape the boredom, we might actually be able to use this time productively.

When’s the last time you did one thing and gave it all of your attention? Honestly, I would struggle to think of when I last did, even writing this article I’ve been checking my emails, playing Hozier on Spotify and snapchatting the fact that I’m writing a new article. Maybe the art of single-tasking is the way forward; maybe single-tasking is key to living in the moment and isn’t that what life’s all about?