Multi-Tasking: More is Less

Multi-Tasking; an important term in the world today.  Is more really better?  I can do more than one thing at a time, but I didn’t say I could do them well. 

Back in my day, I could walk to school in the snow while milking 3 cows and grinding wheat into flour with my teeth, sonny.

After preparing a document for signature at work, I went to the office of the Controller to drop off the folder for approval.  I’m always amazed at how clean his office is.  He may have one piece of paper on his desk while I have 40 million strewn about.  The man is quite intelligent and successful in his job, so I’m guessing he has a good work ethic; he did become Controller after all.  When he returned the signed document, he commented on how I had placed the folder in a straightforward location: his chair.  I replied that his office was so clean, that it would be probably be easy to find anywhere. He, in his casual British style, stated that it actually could use a bit of tidying up at the moment.  I asked how can he keep his office so orderly all the time and he said that it was a skill he picked up a long time ago.  All of his papers and tasks he keeps organized in his desk drawers; only pulling out what he needs when he needs it. 

“Contrary to popular belief, we can only effectively do one thing at a time.  I only take out one item at a time to work on.”

This made me think about the whole concept of multi-tasking and how it’s been deified into something we all need to do in order to survive the modern world.  We want gadgets that have more than one function, so we only have to purchase one.  Companies want employees that can do multiple tasks at one time so they don’t have to hire as many people to get the same amount of work done.  Parents can’t afford the cost of living on a single income, so they have to do their best to focus on a career and the raising of their kids.

This is actually me when caught by a high speed camera.

 As an example, in contemporary family life, we are almost required by law to multi-task.  After working a full day at the office, we pick up the kids on the way home while transferring funds on our mobile phones for our monthly bills.  Then when we get home, we start dinner, while running a load of dishes in the dishwasher, and washing some pants for the kids to wear tomorrow as we help the kids with their homework.  I can then finish dinner, run the kids to some sort of practice or meeting, before bringing them home, getting them in the shower as I remake a bed.  It isn’t until after the kids are in bed and asleep that I realize that I haven’t actually spoken to them all day.  Did all that make my evening better?  It sure doesn’t feel like it.  I’m tired just writing it.

Now there are good things about multi-tasking.  Bras that lift and separate?  Yes, please!    A toaster that can toast, broil, fight crime and has a convection

Will this toaster actually shoot fire or just make toast?

feature?  Wow!  A pocket knife that has a blade, hacksaw, a flame thrower, an extra set of hands, pair of tweezers, and babysitter?  Where do they sell these, because I need one.  A man who is good with kids, a nice person, and your best friend?  (I just threw that one in there.  Hope I don’t make anyone barf.)  If all choices to multi-task could end up this way, I would be all for them! 

If we could equally get quality every time we have to choose quantity, the decision to multi-task could be an easy one.  I’m not so sure we aren’t giving ourselves the short end of the stick on this choice.


Dame Iron Fury


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