musings, mutterings, and creative muddle. . .

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Confessions of a Multi-Tasker

Okay.  I have a confession to make. 

I'm Robin Z and I'm a multi-tasker.

Oh, I know it's not necessarily a bad thing. . . I mean, if a person can fold socks, while talking on the telephone and boiling macaroni, they should.  I can do it - and I do.  Pretty well, I might add.  But that's not the problem.

My multi-tasking problem comes from such not-so-instant tasks like making a quilt, glittering Easter cards, and creating earrings.  Do you see the problem?  Could anyone really do all these things simultaneously?

In case you've forgotten - I started a quilt awhile ago. . . .you'd think it'd be done and I've been snuggling under it for awhile now, wouldn't you?  Well. . . not quite.  And exactly why not?  Do you really want me to go through the whole list of excuses? 

1.  few day hiatus printing, making, and sending Easter cards.

2.  one afternoon making a pair of earrings and bracelet.

3.  another afternoon giving myself a pedicure.

4.  shopping

5.  fab family fun and food

6. also took time out to build the ksyardbird web page AND

7. work on a new website for a client.
8. - 1,000,000,000,003 my 'regular' job, paying bills, taking care of family, cleaning house, the list goes on. . . .  it's just always something, isn't? 

But is that really the problem of multi-tasking or just a problem with staying on task?  And what exactly is the difference?

Well, let's see.  Multi-tasking seems more of an instant gratification thing.  You know:  watch HGTV, write a blog, eat a sandwich, and on hold on the phone- all at the same time.  Don't think it's possible?  I do.  I'm doing it right now.  Seriously.  

Ummmm. . . . Hold on a sec. . . I dribbled some mayo on the keyboard.  Gotta clean that up.  Uh-oh!  Heck.  Gonna have to stop here for a minute, I dropped the phone.  Is it my turn to talk to a real person?  Really?!?!?  Where's the remote?  Where.  is.  the.  remote???  I need to mute the television.  ACK!

I also heard one time:   "On task is doing one thing well;  multi-tasking is doing more than one thing at a time not-so-well."  Is there any truth to that?  I don't know.  I've also read that quality goes down the more things a person tries to juggle at a time.  Our brains are just not programmed to successfully focus on managing several tasks at one time.  I mean, try to pat your head and rub your tummy simultaneously.  Can you?

So it comes back to what is the difference between not being able to stay 'on-task' and 'multi-tasking'?  As I said before, it seems that multi-tasking includes multiple 'instant-gratification' kind of tasks.  Or at least, multiple short-term tasks layered over one or two long-term tasks.

I can quilt, eat popcorn and watch a movie.  The popcorn will last about 20 minutes (okay.  That's a fib.  It'll last about 10 minutes) while a movie is around two hours.  The quilt will take multiple hours and days.  In that same wavelength, there are just some things that cannot be layered.  I cannot quilt and type out an e-mail. . . though I can talk on the phone while quilting.  I need my hands to quilt and mouth and ear to talk - it's all good.  My one brain should be able to handle it all, right?

I read a disturbing article about multi-tasking about a year ago. It said the more that a person multi-tasked, the more likely it would be they would be a victim of Alzheimer's. Of course, I can't find the article on-line to share with you now.  I forget where I saw it. . . Regardless, it pushed me to stop multi-tasking right then and there and work harder at completing one task before starting another. Worked for awhile. . . then it was right back where I was before - in the middle of multi-tasks!

While looking for that article, I just learned that, because of multi-tasking, women need 20 minutes (is that all?!?!?) more sleep than the average man.  What?  How does that work?  So, by multi-tasking, did I gain 20 minutes throughout my day and now I need to use them sleeping, or what?  On the other hand, the same article does say that a man's brain ages quicker than a women's because SHE does multi-task.  Hmmmm. . . interesting.

So what truly is my confession?  I am a multi-tasker. . . but maybe the real problem is - I want instant gratification with the things I do so I distract myself away from longer-term tasks.  Or maybe I just try to darned hard to do too many things.  Yeah.  I think I'll go with that one.

Now that we have that settled. . . . I'm going to turn off the television, ignore the phone and computer and go work on my quilt.  On-task.  That's me!  For now.

Have an on-task kind of day ~

Robin Z

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