Reconsidering multitasking

Look at me!
Look at me now!” said the cat.
“With a cup and a cake
On the top of my hat!
I can hold up TWO books!
I can hold up the fish!
And a little toy ship!
And some milk on a dish!
And look!
I can hop up and down on the ball!
But that is not all!
Oh, no.
That is not all…”

Several days ago I wrote a post titled “Patience” hoping that if I gave myself that public pep talk I would find some.  Instead I continue to feel frantic. Partly this is because I’m still spending a lot of my time on things I don’t want to be doing, and then trying to shoehorn in things I consider important and nourishing and fun.

Multitasking has been my modus operandi. Who doesn’t feel like a rock star after accomplishing five tasks semi-simultaneously? And who doesn’t feel important when the calendar is full of meetings and activities and the calls and texts and emails are rolling in?

Well, I may finally be ready to accept that there is a diminishing point of return with multitasking as a lifestyle. For one, multitasking and the distracted rushing that goes with it can turn a person into a __________ (insert your own vivid noun). Recently I drove right through a zebra crossing instead of yielding to a pedestrian (a work colleague! I realized as I passed him too closely). The shame hit me immediately: have I become that kind of person? Second, multitasking can lead to uncomfortably humbling moments, and I’m talking about stupid or wasteful mistakes I’ve  made because I thought I could divide my attention multiple ways—like Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat who “sank the toy ship, sank it deep in the cake” as he and all his props came toppling down from the ball. And then there’s just that frantic feeling that comes from bouncing from one task to another.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, I’m committing to these well-defined changes that I can implement immediately:

1. Drive the speed limit. Make real stops at stop signs. Observe crosswalks. Do not use cell phone while operating the vehicle. (You are confused, right, since these things are already law?)

2. Check Facebook no more than once a day and with a time limit of 10 minutes, i.e. not like a twitchy junkie. Check personal email once in the morning and once at night.

Oh, believe me, there’s room for more. But this will be a good place to start. I’ll let you know how it goes.

4 thoughts on “Reconsidering multitasking

  1. I’ve been trying to give up facebook (keep deactivating my account) for a while now. It’s totally deleted from my phone and has been for a long time which makes a major difference. Some of the stumbling blocks I’ve faced recently – my cousin giving birth to twins and being way overdue (so we knew when it was going to happen). I of course wanted to see the pics because I knew they would show there before instagram and some updates I can really only get from facebook about potential job opportunities I’m interested in. Anyway, how is it going for you? Have you been able to keep to your rules? Good luck!

    • Hi Lauren — I’m like you, I still get valuable information from Facebook, including a sense of what is trending in pop culture, and FB helps me maintain some relationships. But I’ve become more comfortable not seeing something — or liking or commenting on it — immediately. Checking in once a day or every other day is plenty for me. The driving-related goals are…a work in progress, although I am totally committed to not making pedestrians fear for their lives. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Pingback: Motherlode blog on balancing home and work | Simplifying at Home

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