Steve Uzelle says multi-tasking is “The opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time”.
That is me- I can get so involved doing 4 things at once, thinking “Whoo-boy, I am clickin’ it now… Watch me rock this!” Then 3 minutes later, my brain is exploding because someone asked a simple question that threw me off my carousel of tasks. I usually answer wrong because I am skating on thin ice and there are big stakes! The veneer of competence thins dramatically. Then I submit a timesheet for the wrong week or delete an important email.
If I usually screw up when I multi-task, then why is it so alluring?! I think I am secretly rebelling against people who say it is impossible. I hear myself when I begin (to do my timesheet, and then flip over to an email, then take a bit of sandwich, and notice a document that needs filing, but first I have to scan it to see if I understand the main points…). I say “Ha! Watch me! I have dinner planned already too!” The word manic comes to mind.
Morgan Tyree in Take Back Your Time offers my SuperWoman ego an olive branch. She says we CAN MULTI-TASK! Yes, I am shouting it from the rooftops here… We just need to “choose carefully and be cautious and flexible”. In other words, have low expectations. So here is a list of what I can multi-task:
- Phone calls to Mom while I fold laundry or walk dog (I do this so much that I save up. I won’t fold unless I am on the phone).
- Socializing on long runs with friends. We bare more and run longer too that way.
- Listening to podcasts while driving alone. Morgan grocery shops while listening to podcasts. I am not to that level yet.
- Listening to podcasts or audible books while cleaning the kitchen. This actually makes Saturday morning cleaning kinda pleasant.
- *My favorite* File papers with TV episodes. I did my tax paper organization with 4 episodes of Grace and Frankie this year with a lot less brain damage.
Think about your multi-tasking. Are you picking 2 simple flexible tasks that can be interrupted? Are you being safe? I mean in terms of driving safety, but conversational safety too so that you aren’t overtaxing yourself with big decisions at the wrong time.
Single Moms are super-duper busy, and if I couldn’t fold laundry, give a toddler a bath, write letters, make phone calls, and 29 other things while breastfeeding, my kids would not have been fed. But I was not negotiating, giving bad news, receiving bad news, writing any important documents, driving the car, or chopping carrots. Yes- I would have loved to sit and just stare at my baby’s face, drink water, and have my feet up. But the dog was whining to go out, the toilet was running, or, or, or, and if I didn’t catch it, no one else would.
Breakthrough Thinking: Think over your multi-tasking. I am currently guilty of making important phone calls to family while driving. This may not be a good idea. I need to stop that one and keep the phone in the backpack until I arrive at work. What about you? Which combination is not working for you and needs revision? List below good easy combinations for you to multi-task. ‘Cuz we are rebels, and we can multi-task!