On Multitasking

I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but I had a discussion with my husband last night that really got me thinking about my habit of multitasking.

We were watching The Amazing Spider-man on Blu-ray. This was the first time we had watched it, as is often the case with films and TV series for us these days: our TV isn’t connected to any TV channels at all, just consoles and the soundbar. Frankly it’s often cheaper and more enjoyable to watch films in the comfort of our own home, with no annoying people making a noise and no overpriced snacks, not to mention the fact that we don’t have to go out of our way to find a cinema showing the film in 2D.

As usual when we watch TV, I was also working on my latest crochet project. This meant I was spending much of my time looking down at what I was doing with my hands instead of looking at the screen. As a result, I was missing important pieces of information: characters that had appeared earlier in the film, establishing shots explaining where the scene was taking place, characters’ expressions or even just cool moves that Spidey was making. While these don’t seem like much on their own, they eventually led to me not knowing exactly what was going on in the film, and I ended up annoying hubby by asking him questions that I could easily have answered myself just by paying more attention to the screen.

About halfway through the film I decided to put my crochet aside and just watch. Instead of missing those important visual cues, I was absorbing all that information and analysing it as I normally do. And, I found I was enjoying the film a lot more. It was then that I realised that I had been reducing my own enjoyment of the film by trying to do two things at once. I was even reducing my enjoyment I get from doing my crochet as I was ‘distracted’ by the film.

The bottom line here was that I was trying to enjoy two hobbies at the same time, but I was really reducing my enjoyment of both by trying to combine the two. Once I started thinking about it, I realised I try and multitask at inopportune moments all the time: tweeting about a cool scene in a movie, leading me to miss important information being provided by that very scene, or trying to watch TV and play a game on my iPad at the same time, or even trying to watch tutorial videos and write at the same time.

All of this has led me to seriously think about my multitasking issue, and whether it is really helping me get more done, or actually leading to me doing multiple things at once, but completing those tasks with less satisfaction and enjoyment. As a (mostly) visually oriented person, doing other things while I’m watching TV actually seems like a poor choice, now that I’m actually thinking about it. The distractions of cell phones and social media are also difficult for me, as these break my concentration on the task at hand.

I think I’ll try and focus on just one task at a time, and enjoying that one, rather than trying to divide myself between multiple tasks.

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