Sunday, May 15, 2011

TASKING. MULTIPLE STYLE





So we women are meant to be bandits at the multi-tasking.


Apparently we are regular MacGyver’s with the ability to whip up a croquembouche whilst extracting a Lego man’s head from an air-conditioning vent and simultaneously painting the door jams.


I’d like to think I’m fairly adept at this.  I mean I’m extremely good at hearing my husband even when listening to the news. “Hmm, what’s that?  Yep, I’ll pay your rego that was due last week, sure, but oh look, look it’s a panda riding a rocking horse!”  Why, just yesterday, I found myself unloading washing into a basket at the same I was sitting on the toilet.  Now that takes skill people.


But then I got to wondering. In this day and age where we are time poor yet busier than ever, do you think it’s the man or the woman who should be considered the better multi-tasker?


In fact, is this really even a gender thing?  I mean I’ve watched my husband mow the lawn, take a phone call and scratch is nuts all at the same time.  I’ve seen him shoot his mate a text while eating his lunch and again, scratch his balls.  In fact, come to think of it, pretty much anything he does has the signature nut scratch.    


I myself start lots of lists.  People to Call.  Bills to Pay.  Appointments to arrange.  Stuff to look up on Google.   Blog Ideas.  Ways to make Phil Suffer.  Kidding.  Mostly.  But I rarely, if ever, make it to the end of those lists.  


And add to that, even though I start a lot of tasks at any one time, I wouldn’t say I successfully finish any of them.  I get stuck into folding the washing while having a chat to my friend on the phone, but abandon that midway through when the conversation ends.  I will check my emails while listening to the 9yo read out his spelling words to me, but to be honest, I’m not 100% sure he spelled  the word cuckoo   correctly.  I can cook dinner, make lunches and clean out half a cupboard but more often than not forget the rice I originally started cooking on the gas hob.  Who burns rice?  Me, that’s who.


So even though before I started writing this I thought I was an ace multitasker, now I’m not so sure.  Maybe guys have the right idea.  Do one thing, do it right and finish it.  And maybe, just maybe I need to take time out to scratch my metaphorical nuts.   


What’s your experience?  Are you a great multi-tasker or steady as she goes kinda person?

29 comments:

Carly Findlay said...

The internet has meant for so much multitasking yet short attention spans. I watch TV and browse five Firefox windows while writing.

So Now What? said...

I think I should have mentioned that Carly because it's so true. My attention span is shrinking. I blame the internet. Am limiting Mad's so she can't get too into it because she'll have no hope if she starts too early. xx

Yvette Vignando said...

I read some research about this the other day - but now I can't find it - instead of noting the website down I was probably also listening to 'phone messages and eating my lunch. But I think it said that multi-tasking makes us less efficient ... I'd like to challenge that. If I didn't multi-task nobody would get their calls returned and the washing would never be folded (or a bit less never than now). I quite like the fact that my husband does not, will not and can not multi-task; it's an occasional reassurance for me that it's okay to just read my book or cook a meal without supervising homework at the same time ... I said it's a reassurance to me, the homework-doers of this house on the other hand, are not reassured.

Diminishing Lucy said...

I am a finisher. I watch my husband and his one trick pony method of doing things, and I know I am not as laid back as him. With kids, I can do a bit of mulitasking on boring as shit jobs.

But for other stuff? Fun stuff? Big stuff? Leisure stuff? One at a time. Always. And I get serious anxiety panic mad female attacks is stuff is incomplete.

I think I am a freak.

Catch the Kids said...

I have lots of projects on the go. And lots of scribbled notes. They always get finished in the end, if in a very round-about fashion.

There's a definite limit to how many mundane tasks my brain can juggle and I can't multi-task at all with things that require high concentration (like writing).

I burn the rice too.

Melody said...

I was just saying to the hubby what I did today (not that he asked, just thought I'd tell him). I'm getting good at multi-tasking - most things get done what I set out today - maybe a bit here and a bit there, but I can cook/clean/sew/blog, practically all at the same time. Oh and look after a 20 month old between school drop off/pick up. Yay me.

Denyse Whelan said...

I too thought I was good at multi tasking ... Till I burnt the toast, left the meat out for 24 hours, and ran the bath so full it overflowed. Now I think I am a distracted person who likes to think she multi tasks. And yes, I'm taking the internet excuse.
I have a problem linked to this...... Do you find that while you are 'waiting' for say, a page to load or the emails to come through, you grab your phone to get onto Twitter because you can't be just "sitting & waiting" that's a whole topic.
Can anyone "wait" anymore? Sadly not me.

Ms_MotorbikeNut said...

Even though I can multi task I refuse to do it I like getting one job done at a time as I have found out in the past multi tasking actually takes longer then doing one job at a time.

Cause while you multi task some tasks don't get done right the first time meaning you have to do it again while doing it one job at a time means for me I get that job done right can tick it fully off then move onto the next.

(((( Hugs )))) XXXX Kisses XXXX

Smudgeblurr said...

Hey Bern,
Great Post as usual! I think if we scratched anything as much as boys scratched their nuts we would tell each other to go to the doctors! My other half is a very good multi tasker but he has three older sisters so I think they should get some credit for that! He is also a tradie and I think at time that necessitates multi tasking...

Me - another list maker - have one done for today and usually get around to everything but not necessarily in that order or on that day...

Love you work Mrs xo

Kathy said...

Oho I hear you about lists that get made but never finished ... in fact, not finishing stuff in general. I am a chronic non-completer of any task that requires sustained attention and effort to finish.

Re multi-tasking - I used to pride myself on being a blackbelt multi-tasker and I can still do it when required, but I realised a while ago that it usually makes me more stressed and decreases my quality of output, so to speak. Some things I flat-out refuse to multi-task anymore - if I'm playing with the toddler or reading to the kids, I won't try to do anything else at the same time, I designate that time *just* for them.

My one remaining multi-tasking (or frenetically chaotic, if you prefer) area of life is the Internet. Dozens of Firefox tabs, three email accounts, Tweetdeck, etc etc etc ... It's all happening. Not particularly effectively or efficiently, typically, but there you have it ;-)

Alex said...

Guilty. I've found that at home at least, I'm unable to NOT multitask.
If the kids are having a nap, I'll have a 'rest' and sit at the computer, while watching whatever I've taped on TV, while eating lunch. If they're awake, don't even ask how many activities I can have on the go at once.

(Guilty of dozens firefox tabs open at the same time too.)

I do take the time to just go and chill out at least two days a week with a run at the beach and a good book.

Veggie Mama said...

The only only things I can do solo is read and sleep. Everything else I have to be doing two things. I can't watch tv or movies without a crossword, crochet, magazine... I can't sit still with boring things :)

Jennifer Smart said...

I might only be doing one thing, but I'm always thinking of many things. Thoughts and ideas are always tumbling around and falling in each others' way! Love a list, I get so much more done with a list.
Great post.

macsnorky said...

I used to think I was a good multi-tasker, but these days I'm in such a fog most of the time I have trouble focussing on one thing at a time. I'm sure I'm going to wake up one day to find I'm no longer able to breathe and walk at the same time.

Although, I had planned to show you how clever I could be sometimes by scratching my nuts while I typed this comment but the husband is at work...

Mum In The Burbs said...

I start a million things I never finish. Last year I burnt the rice while we were putting up the Christmas tree (didn't start the timer). To make myself focus on one thing i will use the timer on my phone - if I remember to start it.

MaidInAustralia said...

I'm a great multi-tasker but these days I'm easily distracted. Like if I'm cooking dinner, and one child needs help with homework, and another with a particularly troublesome poo, and I'm trying to keep an eye on twitter whilst watching the funny panda on telly, something might get burned. Like dinner and/or my sanity. Thank God I don't have nuts to scratch or it would all go to hell!

Jodie Ansted said...

OMG - I have SO sorted washing whilst on the toilet.

You and I are truly skillful, Bern. ;)

Glen said...

scratching your nuts doesn't count - that's an automatic response.

as is adjusting things

as is farting

it's just what we do

Maxabella said...

I hate the labels. They give the 'researchers' something to research. I think people have always 'multi-tasked' and sometimes we're good at it and other times we should have just sat down and put our feet up.

And so it goes... x

Benison said...

I burnt the dinner whilst reading your ever funny blog! Multitasking fail.

Becci said...

Nobody in our house would be fed if I didn't multitask. Last night I was making dinner while loading the dishwasher while nagging son to get his soccer gear on while solving daughter's social problems while reading school newsletter while watching the news! And i think I even scratched my metaphorical nuts too. Of course all those jobs were of a far inferior quality to hubby's method of doing them perfectly one at a time but then I'm only a woman!!!
In fact I read and commented on this post while burning CDs at work and checking twitter. I think I may have a problem.....

Sandy said...

In the kitchen - I am definitely a multitasker - Otherwise nothing will get done on time. In my business, I prefer not too otherwise the work does not get done properly.

Kathleen said...

Get yourself a rice cooker with a steam basket in which to cook veges at the same time without Berning them

emlythestrange said...

First thing I do when writing a list, is write item 1. Write a list. :P Then I can tick it off straight away.. :D

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