One thing at a time
I’m practicing doing one thing at a time.
I suppose you could call it ‘single-tasking’. The opposite of ‘multi-tasking’.
I feel like I have spent most of my life multi-tasking, but nowadays I’m trying hard not to.
Sometimes multitasking is not only unavoidable but also kind of necessary, but mostly it isn’t.
To be honest, the main kind of multi-tasking I try to avoid these days generally involves not looking at my phone.
There have always been small chunks of time when I’m just waiting around for something.
Before I had a smartphone I almost always had a book with me that I would simply take out and start reading whenever I had some unexpected time to fill.
I used to get through a novel a week when I commuted to my first teaching job. I would also look through my diary and make notes and lists of things I needed to do.
Phone calls were something I could only do when I was at home, and there really wasn’t any other way to communicate except by letter or by seeing someone face-to-face.
I’m not sure I want to go back to a completely analogue life, but in a way, things were more simple. I still had plenty to do, but my choices were more limited.
I used to spend a lot more time thinking, reflecting, daydreaming.
I took more time to look at the world around me.
The turning tide
While I enjoy all the things that technology has to offer: writing this blog post for example, I feel nostalgic for the days before we were all permanently plugged into our ‘external hard-drive’.
These last few months I’ve been doing my best to avoid ‘passing the time’ on my phone.
I’ve had my notifications turned off for years, and it’s always on silent, but now I find myself wishing I could have a phone without email and the internet. Just text message and Citymapper and the camera. Ok, maybe the passbook for when I’m travelling and want to have my boarding pass on my phone, but pretty much everything else I could live without.
I think it might not be long before this option becomes available.
The tide is turning.
I think I’m not the only person who feels concerned about the amount of time we spend peering into our devices.
When I want to know the weather I look out of the window or up at the sky. That usually tells me what I need to know.
I don’t need to fend off boredom by zapping little coloured dots. I can let my mind do some house-keeping. Allow things to settle. Remember some things I need to remember. Feel happy when I recall something someone said to make me smile. People watch.
This is why I want to just do one thing at a time.
I’m still practising.