Multitasking has its limits.
I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time. –Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
I came across this quote in a BuzzFeed piece called 37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old. It speaks to the importance of “old-fashioned” virtues, and the value of focusing one’s attention on a single activity instead of trying to multitask as a way to get more things done. It’s related to the current interest in mindfulness as a way to be more productive and to develop a “‘happier outlook’ on life”.
Here is the quote within a fuller context:
… I will only add, to what I have already written of my perseverance at this time of my life, and of a patient and continuous energy which then began to be matured within me, and which I know to be the strong part of my character, if it have any strength at all, that there, on looking back, I find the source of my success. I have been very fortunate in worldly matters; many men have worked much harder, and not succeeded half so well; but I never could have done what I have done, without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one object at a time, no matter how quickly its successor should come upon its heels, which I then formed….