Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Fine Art Of Multitasking

Back in the 90's when I was in my corporate period, it was important to put 'multitasker' as one of your skills in your resume.  Way back then, the ability to do several things at the same time was considered a rare and impressive skill.

Except everyone put it on their resume.  So it wasn't rare at all.

And in fact, it's complete bollocks.

Apparently, and I'm not quoting anything but I read it somewhere, it's impossible to effectively multitask, and if you ever do try to do more than one thing at a time, you'll just do two or more things badly and probably slower.

Hence,  you're better off trying to do one thing at a time, doing it well, finishing it, and moving on to the next.

Nice theory.

Problem is, the habit of multitasking is hard to break.  And these days of multiple devices connecting us to each other, it's even harder.

I personally love nothing more than to chop the veges, plan tomorrow's playdate, check the weather and monitor homework at the same time.  And usually it works out ok.

This afternoon for example I was chopping the red capsicum for dinner when presented with a maths problem that was causing some difficulty.  Fifteen pieces of red capsicum later we managed to sort out how many pieces five people would get...problem solved, capsicum chopped, everyone happy.

Yep, if you had 15 pieces of capsicum to be divvied up between 5 people,  they each get 3.  Amazing!

Now that's multitasking at its best.

I know it's not fashionable any more, and doubtless a very inefficient way of operating, but I can't give up, I'm totally addicted.  The more things I have on the go at once, the better the high if I pull them all off.

Work wise, I could see why multitasking is now left off most people's CVs.  Probably along with rare skills like 'good communicator' and 'computer literate'.  On my work days I could definitely use a bit less multi in my tasking, I should turn off the email, the internet, and the phone and work in strictly measured blocks of time with brisk 5 minute walks around the block in between to help keep those creative juices a-flowin'.  Because that's what productivity theory currently says I should do.  

I don't of course, but I should.  

But in the mornings, do I multitask? Hell yeah.

So if one kid wants me making vegemite toast, and the other one wants me to pour the milk and the third needs her hair done, well what harm in attempting to do all three at the same time?  At least no one feels left out or second rate.  Throw in a load of washing and three lunch boxes and the adrenalin hit is amazing.