The Joys and Sorrows of a Single-Track Mind

Multitasking is a skill that I’ve never mastered, as I am possessed of an infamously one-track mind. I don’t view this as a flaw on my part, mind you; it’s been my observation that when most people say that they are capable of multitasking, what they in fact mean is that they are capable of slapping together a half-assed job of multiple projects at once. In my humble opinion, taking the time and effort to do something correctly, even if you cannot do alot of things quickly is not undesirable. Understand, however, that I am not saying that I don’t like to multitask, I am saying that I am physically incapable of multitasking, to the point where even working and listening to music at the same time is a virtually insurmountable challenge. The music either needs to be purely instrumental (but not interesting enough in terms of its rhythms for me to care), or it needs to have lyrics in an entirely foreign language; otherwise, it will only interfere with my concentration.

This single-mindedness also manifests itself in terms of my academic pursuits. I can obsess over subjects for days or weeks at a time; this can become problematic if there is something upon which I should be focusing, but which is not sufficiently interesting to tear me away from something else. When it comes to my priorities, my focus tends to be all or nothing, and I cannot necessarily decide for myself what I’m going to focus upon.

You may imagine that this upsets my “work-life balance.” I don’t actually believe in the whole concept of work-life balance, as it implies that work is what you are doing when you are not enjoying your life, in which case I heartily recommend that you get a new job. I will say, though, that it upsets the balance between the various responsibilities that I have in life. For example, I can focus on my social interactions to the deteriment of my work or of my finance, or I can focus on science to the detriment of my writing. So long as I remember to rotate my focus every week or so, this isn’t an enormous problem, but it can be offputing. Usually I need about a day to recover in between changing from one focus to another.

It also affects me, perhaps surprisiningly, in terms of my literary interests. When I read a novel, I tend to like to give myself over entirely to that novel, to the point where I have difficulty thinking outside of its conventions until I have finished it.  This even reaches the ridiculous extent that I start subconsciously parroting the author’s style in my own writing. This, incidentally, is why I have been unable to write anymore of that novel I started a few weeks ago; during the interim, I read Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut, and I have not yet managed to break free.


About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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