Taking a Break from Multitasking

multitaksing, Jed Smith photography, Italywise

Multitasking – © 2018 Jed Smith

Actually, I’m recovering from an investment in the illusion that multitasking is even possible.

You may have noticed that ItalyWise has been quiet for the past couple of weeks. I took a real vacation with my dear sisters in a classic, shabby-chic beachfront cottage. I brought my computer and camera. I had visions of working on blog posts, taking and editing photos, catching up on emails, and working on my second novel. Big plans. Big ideas of dancing back and forth between tasks in such a tranquil setting would surely turbocharge my productivity.

Then, I realized I had been on the verge of burnout, and I needed a break badly!

I gave myself permission not to do all of the above. I let myself off the hook for daring to commit the cardinal blogging sin of going silent for two whole weeks. I took a few family photos and offered a bit of technical computer instruction to my sisters who have burgeoning interests in photography. That was it. I unplugged. I took walks on the beach. I turned my mind off about 80% of the time (a real feat). I played games. I laughed.

I also realized my idea of multitasking needed to be jettisoned.

Vacations are great for catching up on sleep and letting go of the responsibilities of our daily grooves. They’re also great for stepping outside of ourselves, looking in, and hitting the reset button if needed. I saw that I’d been spreading myself too thin and was too much in “gotta achieve as much as possible” mode. The telltale sign? A knot of constriction in my chest.

“Slow down, you move too fast”

The words from “Feeling Groovy”, one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs, kept repeating themselves. And, I pondered the words of Robert Browning, “Less is more.”  I think there’s something important contained in these three simple words.

Have we all been hoodwinked into believing that we need to tackle life while accomplishing as much as possible simultaneously in order to be a success? Can we do more, can we realize better results when we calmly take one thing at a time?

How do we rewire our brains? How do we withdraw our belief in a concept that has been proven false, time and time again?

Consider this online article by Nick Morrison at Forbes: 

The Myth of Multitasking And What It Means For Learning

The engineering and analytical part of my brain (thanks to my nuclear engineer father) loves the science and research that helps break apart mistaken notions.

In finding an appropriate photo for this post, I came across a recent photo I took of Italian multitasking—a gondolier passes the grocery, navigates a narrow passage, and ducks under a bridge, all with a cell phone glued to his ear. Yes, multitasking, or what I call “fractured attention” exists everywhere, even in Venice.