Sunday, March 7, 2010

Multi-tasking, really?

There have been so many times over the past few years when I have made reference to my ability to multi-task. I have heard many other women join the call as well. Today I realized that I am not so sure most parts of my "multi" really qualify as tasks, and that I'd really like to spend some quality time devoted to ONE task.

I can walk and chew gum at the same time, hell I can even throw in a conversation, but is that really multi-tasking? I can talk on the phone and fold laundry, but what is really getting accomplished there besides the folding (unless we can count therapeutic chatting as a goal). I have also noticed that some of my efforts have even less appeal when they occur simultaneously. Case in point: The other day I was running to unclog the toilet, while I was making dinner. In all fairness, the person who reported the situation did say I could go unclog it "when I had a chance", apparently there was no immediate danger...according to THAT person. I really needed to check things out myself, and if I was going to go all the way upstairs, might as well just tend to the matter. But I was making dinner!

I am not exactly looking at my "to do" list and grouping items that can be accomplished at the same time. Instead, I am looking at something I don't really want to do, and trying to find something moderately pleasing to do in conjunction with it. This brings me back to wondering what counts as a task?

The dictionary I have defines a task as: 1) A piece of assigned work and 2) A difficult or tedious undertaking. An example of my ineffective multi-tasking with regard to the first definition is that I TASK three people in this house to do things--none of which get done...then I am left with the "difficult and tedious undertakings". I don't want to do one tedious task, let alone try to master completing several of them at one time!

I also had to concede today that there are limitations to multi-tasking, as I could not return a phonecall, walk the dogs, and go to the bathroom at the same time. Would you believe taking myself to the bathroom ended up being the last thing I did on that list?! The phone message promised a surprise, and the dogs looked pathetic, so there I go (or not).

So it seems that I am not multi-tasking, but could better be described as constantly interrupted or endlessly distracted (these sound far less productive). There are many things around here that I would like to do, but they lose some of their appeal when I realize that I will not be able to focus solely on the matter at hand. Interestingly enough, I rarely get interrupted when I am vacuuming, but getting out scrapbooking supplies is like putting out the "come on in, we're open" sign.

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