OCD Multitasking

It’s rant time and I just realized something: for a guy with a beefy PC and multiple displays, I spend a lot of time with just one window open.  Billions of CPU cycles and memory cells are sitting idle.  Only one of my LCDs is even powered on right now.  Am I being wasteful, or merely efficient ?

The blogosphere is littered with articles on how to multitask effectively, but I’m not a true multitasker.  I work best when I’m sharply focused on one thing.  I see these Firefox plugins about tab grouping and the oh-so-bullshitty trend that is GTD (“Getting Things Done”), and I can’t help but wonder what kind of basket case would need such things.  Sure, sometimes I have 30 or 40 tabs open in my browser, but they’re just sitting there, waiting in a queue until I get around to them.  It’s not like I need to have all 30 tabs in my immediate consciousness.  If I need to focus on a few tabs simultaneously, I just hit CTRL-N, drag the tab to a new window and tile them beside each other.

My boss has the same habit of running 20-30 apps on his desktop.  His task bar is two or three lines high, and he routinely loses track of what apps and documents are open.  Is he working on 30 things simultaneously ?  No.  Maybe an IDE, a browser, a SQL tool and email… the rest is sitting idle.  Me, if I don’t need something in the next 5 minutes, I close it.  I don’t need that shit cluttering my subconscious – out of sight, out of mind.

Right now, I’m writing this blog post.  I have one thing open: my browser.  No email in the background, no RSS reader throwing news flashes at me from the corner of the screen.  When I’m done with the first draft, I will probably open a second tab so I can jump back and forth between the main site and my editor to do some quick editing, but that’s it.  I’m not switching out to refresh Slashdot or Facebook in the middle of a paragraph.  One task, full focus, no distractions.

I’ll be so blunt as to say that if you think adding more crap to your computer will help you manage it better, you’re not only wrong, but possibly stupid.  Minimize, simplify, streamline.

If you have too much shit to keep track of, the solution is to get rid of excess shit.

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