Sunday, August 1, 2010


"I may be the type who manages to grab all the pointless things in life but lets the really important things slip away."
— Haruki Murakami (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories)

Sometimes, I feel as though my mind is overloaded. In fact, I know it - and the problem is, I like it that way.

It's my own fault, of course. As I write, I am sitting on my bed. I have eight Safari windows open (this screen, Twitter, Roger Ebert's and Sarah Wilson's blogs,, Laura Tingle's feature article for the Walkey Foundation, Dominic Knight's latest article for ABC The Drum and "How beaches looked 100 years ago"). The Big Bang Theory is playing on my tv. The manuscript for my novel is open in Microsoft Word. The Wealthy Freelancer is laying open beside me on one side, my iPhone on the other, whilst I wait for an email to arrive in my inbox. And this is a Sunday, my one "day off" a week.

My penchant for "multi-tasking" is of huge annoyance to my boyfriend Andy. He likes to do most of the same things I do: read, use social media (my chosen mode is Twitter, his is Facebook), watch tv, cuddle. The difference is that he likes to do these activities just one at a time. I can't. Focusing on only one task makes me antsy and frustrated. I can't handle it.

My inability to focus is an issue for several reasons...

1. It prevents me from totally immersing myself in an activity. Eating lunch? The tv is on. Watching a movie? I'm on twitter. At a party? I'm checking my iPhone. (TERRIBLE, I know. I am One of Those.) This constant distraction means that I am never in the moment, that I don't fully enjoy whatever I am experiencing. I'm missing out.

2. My mind is overloaded with all sorts of useless information. Do I really need to know all the names of the designers of Project Runway? At about 15 designers per season, that is over 120 names. Surely there is something more worthwhile to store in my memory bank... High Court precedents, for example. The names of people I actually know, even.

3. I don't allow myself, or my mind, to breathe. Those moments are, of course, my best opportunity to be inspired.

I had to retrace my steps to figure out what instigated this preoccupation with being in a constant flourish of activity. It seems to have started when I was going through a bit of a low-point in my life. I wanted to avoid being left alone with my thoughts, at all costs. Silence and stillness were evaded. I would fill in every waking moment with activity, noise or stimulation.

Thankfully, my mindset has changed now. I'm happier and more at peace with myself. I spend my spare time writing and connecting. Yet, I still feel uncomfortable with silence. I have a compulsion to be busy, instead of taking time to think and be still. I also feel an obligation to be well-read, informed and know "what's going on", whether within my circle of friends or the world at large. So how to ease myself into a streamlined, simplified, focused frame of mind, and have my lifestyle reflect that? Prioritising, for one, by ascertaining what is contributing to my wellbeing, and what isn't - or worse, what is hindering it.

So therein lies my August aspiration. Don't get me wrong, I can't bring myself to part with the latest season of Project Runway. I love it! But I am going to mitigate that frivolity with frequent respites, to think and reflect and be inspired. I will live in the moment, slow down and be gentle on myself. I am going to meditate everyday. I am going to break away from my bad habit of being engaged with dozens of things at once, and, instead, just focus on one at a time.

My hope is that these efforts will help me to be more inspired and mindful, as well as realise that I don't need to do everything that I feel compelled to do, either by myself or the world around me. There are only so many hours in a day, so I need to pick and choose the pursuits that suit me and give me pleasure, and subsist on those. They don't always have to be noble - there is always room for pure selfishness and contentment. What's lovely about life is that we, the lucky ones, have the power and the choice to create the lifestyle that makes us happy. So why let others make that choice for us?

"Don't pointless things have a place, too, in this far-from-perfect world?"
— Haruki Murakami (Sputnik Sweetheart)

(Pictures via The Selby and Dead March)

P.S. Just one day after I posted this, my poor laptop self-combusted. I guess it is protesting, too!


Corrine/Frock And Roll said...

Exactly. I hear you, Laura! Thanks for the reminder to take things a lot more slower, and to remember to actually breathe and just BE.

Laura said...

You should read Project Rungay, Tom and Lorenzo's blog!

Laura Valerie said...

Thank you Corrine!

Laura - great minds (and names!) think alike, Tom and Lorenzo's blog is one of my favourites. They are so funny!

Anonymous said...

I think we are on the same wavelength right now... I am trying to tone things down a LOT when it comes to multi tasking (she says with 6 firefox tabs open at once)

I realised how bad it was when I couldn't sit through an entire DVD without feeling like I had something else to do. Or turning to twitter mid-film. I also struggle to just sit at home and read - there is always something else I could be doing.

I am making a conscious effort to spend 1 day a week completely offline. I am taking a couple of nights "off" of the internet (twitter is SO hard to avoid though) and I'm going to focus my time and energy on one task at a time, and hopefully develop some better habits!

Good luck!

Laura Valerie said...

Hi Belle,

I am the same, I feel so antsy when I am only doing one thing! It's not so much the multi-tasking itself that concerns me so much as that pull towards it, coupled with the fact that it's not really beneficial or productive anyway!

Good luck to you too :) xx

Anonymous said...

Love this post. It is so hard to slow things down, live in the moment and let your mind wander and be creative. If you manage to successfully do this, you must post about it! :)
Multi-tasking makes us feel productive when really it's the opposite, but when you thrive on that 'busy' feeling it can be hard to just relax and enjoy! Best of luck hun.
PS: Your blog is fabulous! x

Laura Valerie said...

Oh yes DDI, you said it perfectly!

Thank you so much for your kind words, I am off to check out your blog now :)