Monthly Archives: June 2013


Paolo Cardini: Forget multitasking, try monotasking

Egads, Paolo Cardini speaks on something that I want to disagree with.  The power or importance of monotasking in a world where multitasking appears to be the norm.

It’s a short Ted Talk, which is where the birth of ideas generally stem from.

Link: Paolo Cardini:

Length: 2 minutes, 52 seconds

Views so far: 911,182


Now before I go into a crazed lunatic rant of why I disagree, what can I agree with?  There is joy that he is referring to in the monotasking world, the take time to smell the flowers kind of analogy.   We are constantly being bombarded with various stimulus that we really don’t have that much time to concentrate that heavily on anything. 

It all depends upon the individual of course.  Some people have complex social schedules and ‘outside of work’ functions that occur on a regular basis.  Some people have curiosities that need to be followed up and researched.  Others sometimes just want to be entertained and have developed a method where they can find it.  We’re all different kinds of busy, even if it means just catching up on sleep.

So why not turn the machines off for a time?  Or restrict the desire to use the alternate functionalities?  And that’s a pleasant little idea that Cardini follows up with in his clever smartphone covers.  The best way to simplify is to have a physical aid to do so, makes sense.

Alright, enough of my midnight ramblings what does this tell me?

Four Reasons we should Forget Multitasking, and monotasking

1) It’s Illegal to Drive and Text, and there’s less explosions

I’m not exactly when the following conundrum happened.  There was a time when I bought my first cellphone and this was after I had bought my first car.  I drove and talked on the phone all the time in those days.  I even remember getting the greatest high score in Tetris EVER while driving along major highways.  This, much like smoking in libraries, was the norm.  

And then one day, this happened.

I’m uncertain if it was because cellphones reached a certain point in popularity or if it was because of some spontaneous global mindblank outbreak but people started smashing into each other in record numbers.  Enough so that people began to say that distracted driving was becoming a problem. 

2) Cardini ruins his BBQ

Those pieces of charred meat in his presentation made bbq’ers everywhere both angry and sad inside.  Anyone who considers themselves the master of the grill would not let such an atrocity to occur without falling to the ground and weeping, and possibly dousing themselves in lighter fluid and fire in an act of self immolation. 

Unless you asked for your food to be cooked well done, because that’s what it is.  (Seriously, no one should get their food well done.)

3) We have five senses and we don’t really appreciate any of them

It’s a sorry state of affairs for human self consciousness when we require a philosophical or spiritual ‘awakening’ to realize that we can do some amazing things with our bodies, be it a sense of touch or smell and thus be able to remark upon it. 

It’s also a shame that when someone does take the time to concentrate on this kind of task, it is largely considered a ‘waste’ of time.  Cardini makes a great deal of sense in that enjoying simplicity is a voluntary act these days.  (It is also reminiscent of Taylor’s Stroke of Insight Ted Talk, although that was much more introspective in nature)

4) As weird as it sounds, monotasking ‘looks good’

People admire other people when those people do great things.  In other words, when someone does something amazing, it is worth watching and getting friends together and having everyone watch it. 

Suddenly we have an audience, and portraying an act to an audience (much different than if alone or personally), then there are a multitude of tricks to better an audience’s reaction.  And what IS one of these tricks?  The look of deep concentration. 

It’s that point in time where one person leans over to someone else and whispers, “This is going to be good.” in active anticipation of whatever it is that’s happening.  Much like a magician, performance is part of the magic.

Monotasking, is the legitimate form of this concentration because as Cardini points out with his ‘Compass’ cover.  The Compass the only thing you can concentrate on because it’s the only thing you can see on the phone.  (You better damn well concentrate on it then.)

Of course, if this also means rediscovering the joy of a simplistic moment, then that I believe, is what Cardini wants us to remember.

So why do I disagree? 

Simple, the reason why we don’t carry a phone, a compass, a calculator etc in three different pockets is because the multitasking tool is better.  The notion of having a cover to limit functionality is obviously a joking point but it takes away from the beauty of what multitasking can be.

The patterns of airplanes as they arrive and take off into flight, the symphony of two songs when they are placed together in a fusion, the art of juggling while balancing on a platform on a ball.  There’s a simplistic joy, very similar to mono tasking, that exists here.

Personally, I grew up multitasking on a very silly level.  (And I know I had mentioned this before in a previous EdTalksTed.)  However, one of my favorite moments after school was to get home, turn on two computers, the television and radio and use all four at the same time while I did my homework.  (Yes, I listened to the radio the same time I watched television.)

It’s easier than it sounds, open two Youtube videos and shift the sound volumes of either during their pivotal moments so you can more clearly hear one video at a time.  After a while, you won’t need to adjust the volume and can watch both.  (I’m not kidding, you get used to it.)

In fact, throughout all of school, including university, I never once did work that didn’t include a radio and television also playing in the background.  (Note: I cannot describe in detail how barren the office feels at times) 

I guess at the end of the day I’m simply frustrated, as multitasking is often deemed as a negative trait.  (Dammit, I think I figured it out, I just want to watch tv while I work.)

Take a moment to monotask, (and share)


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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Uncategorized