Working from home (WFH) during—well, you know what—has been both a delight and a challenge. I’m a multipotentialite. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, check out the TED talk of the individual who coined it, Emilie Wapnick. Multipotentiality means I have a great many interests that compete for processing time in my brain, and I am continually shuffling them around to see how I can best make them play nicely together. My mind is endlessly trying to assemble a pleasing jigsaw out of a random assortment of interesting-looking pieces taken from hundreds of other jigsaws. This methodology can be fun and highly creative, but at times just downright frustrating; like I am moving at a snail’s pace in a thousand different directions at once.
The dozens of intriguing and competing priorities can cause my mind to either race away on a crazy tangent with whimsical new possibilities (huge fun), or simply freeze and zone-out in the face of overwhelming choice (irritating). Some days I am a video content producer, other days I am a writer, sometimes a designer, occasionally I dabble in making websites.
Then, almost overnight, I will become frustrated because none of those things are satisfying me. I’ll decide I want to ‘pivot’ and channel all my creative energy into writing a screenplay, or a novel, or planning a holiday, or wondering whether I would be any good at surfing— and any one of those new projects will prompt the viewing of many hours of tutorial videos. This morning I began pondering the essential ingredients I would need to create a new sci-fi franchise.
Last year, I heavily got into swimming, gymnastics rings, and then—briefly—indoor climbing. I was looking into trying hockey at the point lockdown stymied activities that involved close contact with others. From that new starting point, I shifted my interests again. My new passion became gaming, and from there stemmed thoughts of a return to streaming on Twitch— a puzzle piece that would once again fit well with both my video skills and my need for creative fulfilment.
Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels
Anyway, back to my WFH experience. Multipotentiality has been both a blessing and a curse while working solo. When I have a project that I am enthusiastic about working on, everything else goes out of the window. Noise-cancelling headphones go on, and there is zero tolerance for disturbances. In an office environment, appearing withdrawn and focussed could—I guess—come across as passive-aggressive.
When I am in a flow state, people can be talking to me and I will not even register their presence. Being torn away from something I am deeply into is immensely irritating. For me, there can be no such thing as ‘multitasking’. My mind will just accelerate out of control, and I’ll get flustered and frustrated at giving half-assed thinking to multiple competing demands on my brainpower. Sorry about that folks!
The focus on a project I am enjoying, quite simply, consumes my entire mind. With no processing capacity left for any other train of thought—and hours rolling by unnoticed—my mind is totally at peace. There have even been extreme periods of focus (please don’t judge me here) when I came close to peeing myself because I was so ‘in the zone’ that I kept putting off a bathroom break.
I can also attribute my love of swimming to its power to entirely filter distractions. The physical action of swimming occupies enough of my brain to leave my mind pleasantly free of thoughts for an extended period. So, to reach an unbroken flow-state on a project—where progress on a project feels effortless—WFH is simply the best goddam thing ever! Working in a onesie all day has also been an unexpected perk.
You can find out more about multipotentiality at Puttytribe, an online community for people with stacks of hobbies and interests.
Tom is a Television Commercial Director, Editor, Designer, and Author. He is the author of the Focal Press media studies textbook 'Managing a Video Production Company' and is also the Production Director of JMS Group, a television commercial production company in the UK. Outside of the media Tom enjoys sci-fi, gaming, fitness, hiking, and yoga.