For our prompt of “Octopus” today, I made a sketch of one multitasking. I’ve often thought that having eight arms would be rather helpful when trying to keep up with a long to-do list. The reality, of course, is that I only have two arms and the entire idea of multitasking is a myth. It’s not actually possible for humans to successfully focus on more than one thing at a time and really only amounts to a quick switching between multiple stimulus at once. While this sounds quite efficient in theory, it’s been scientifically proven to erode productivity and actually lower IQ. This makes sense. If it’s impossible to focus on more than one thing, then attempting to do so results in no focus whatsoever. That’s why I adore getting lost in the singular act of creating something new. Finding that bit of time to draw and splash some watercolor, free from any other distractions, is when I feel the most productive. And also, the most at peace.

While I often have multiple projects going at the same time, I only work on one at any given time. I learned long ago that while I do have a wildly short attention span, I can’t really focus on multiple things. Indeed, too much chatter around me can rattle my brain and I prefer one-on-one, quiet conversations. And, given a choice between staring at my iPhone screen and making something on paper, I’ll always choose the latter. It’s just way more fun to create and be in my own little bubble! Well actually, I wasn’t alone while creating this illustration. My pup Elliott was lying on the floor next to me. For some reason he feels it’s his job. But, he makes little groans of displeasure if I appear to be taking too long, and therefore delaying his dinner. I told him he could go and ask Philippe, but he just looked at me like I must be crazy. Apparently, he takes his job quite seriously, even if his own short attention span makes the little hour I spend painting feel endless to him. I guess, even Elliott, can only focus on one thing at a time.

Philippe and I were going for a walk recently, and a woman was heading our direction while staring at her phone. She was barreling toward us and didn’t even look up. We actually had to jump out of her path to avoid a collision. And, even after that happened, she never seemed to notice we were there. Philippe turned to me and shook his head and said, “It’s such a beautiful day, and she’s missing it entirely.” This was so true, I thought. The birds were all fluttering and singing, squirrels were dashing up trees still blossoming for spring, dappling the ground with sun and shadows. It’s sad that people can get so lost in screens when the natural world is so much more fascinating and inspiring. I’ll always be the type to get lost in my own mind before ever disappearing into a screen for a true escape. When I’m exploring my own imagination, I’m always surprised by what’s there. It’s an endless journey of new epiphanies, strange notions, and wild thoughts that are always delightfully intriguing, and never feel like too much at once.

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About the Doodlewash

Sketching Stuff Coloring Set – Da Vinci Watercolors: Charlie O’Blue, Opus (Vivid Pink), Gold Ochre, Terra Cotta, And Indigo. ZIG Cartoonist Mangaka Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle 100% Cotton Watercolour Book.
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Octopus Holding Phone Coffee Mug Looking At Laptop Computer Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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19 thoughts on “Too Much At Once

  1. Right on Charlie. I do two things at once actually — however I don’t realize I actually left task one to go and do task two and then returned to complete task one. I have been caught so then I started to pay attention (yes I actually do that on occasion) and caught myself. Ended up doing an exorcism once, fortunately I didn’t disappear. I was on the mat exercising and must have told myself to get up and turn the coffeemaker on and then come back to the mat. I did go into the kitchen to turn it on but it was already running and I was alone in the house. So. I turned to God for help.

    I was allowed a vision of me running throught the bedroom doorway saying I gotta hang this in the closet. Fully present now I checked and it was there. So we can see the point of only doing one thing at a time.

    Still haven’t figured out however the manner in which my window got open after me saying gotta go open it but hadn’t gotten up to do it yet …. It was open.


    1. Sometimes doing too much at once does just end up being a wonderful way to confuse ourselves it would seem! 😉💕 I’m trying to be more focused as I go along, but am still quite easily distracted! hehe

  2. A few years back, I went to see my 10 and 8 year old grandnieces in a dance recital. I’d always thought that sort of class was great for helping kids to learn coordination, but as I watched I realized it was also teaching them to beware of the space around them. So many people these days have absolutely no awareness of anything outside their own little bubble. It’s sad and, in many instances, outright dangerous. Maybe dance should become a required class for grade school!

  3. Hello Charlie,

    What a wonderful post! I like the sketch too but looking at an octopus brings back some uncool kitchen memories, so I couldn’t really look at it properly. Your story about the woman reminded me of a student I’d once seen. I was doing a workshop and one afternoon, while having lunch on a park bench, I saw a girl half-running towards a huge pit while lost in her screen. Several people ran to help her avoid falling but she fell anyway and broke her leg. Two months later I was back at the same place and guess what? The same girl – still wearing a cast support – hobbled to the same spot still lost in her screen. The pit had disappeared but this time a cat suddenly crossed her path and the girl tripped over her, fell and broke the other ankle. Some people never learn I guess!


    1. Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 Wow… that’s amazing that it’s a lesson she refused to learn, even at the expense of her own safety. I hope whatever was so important inside that phone was worth it! I hope you have a fabulous week, my friend. Much love! ❤️

  4. Maybe having those extra arms on your octopus enables you to free up your sight and mind, enjoy the view ahead of you, Charlie. No screens will ever be more beautiful than the one we choose to behold. And I love your octopus!

    1. Thanks so much, Fanna! 😃💕 When I’m on my phone, I’m usually always looking at art, so that’s quite beautiful. But, I’m rarely on my phone these days as the real world always remains more fascinating!

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