Saturday, October 27, 2007

Is Multi-tasking really possible?

Women are great multitaskers. Or at least, that is a quality many of us claim. We can wash dishes, feed the kids and drive to swimming lessons all at the same time. And all while we are doing laundry, making a costume for the 5 year old and reading "Men are from Mars".
But when I burnt the almonds that I was trying to toast the other day--twice, I started thinking. Is it really possible to multitask at all? Can our brains really work that way?
Some multitasking is foolhardy at best. Putting on mascara while driving, for instance. Other examples of multitasking confound me to no end. I am convinced that I never will figure out how to read in the bathtub and enjoy it. There are also tasks that undeniably require a singular focus, like Monday night football. But what about those times when I really think that I am doing more than one thing at a time? If I try to load the dishwasher while J is working on math, it never fails that I will have to stop at least 4 times to go and clarify something for her. Then I'm not doing two things at once, but switching back and forth between them. Or when I can tomatoes while supervising a story writing session, it is inevitable that someone will want to know how to spell "Uzbekistan" or need a pencil sharpened. Then I'm not multitasking, but holding off fulfilling the girl's requests with another "I'll be there in a minute" until I can break away from the tomatoes. While typing this post, I have had to answer the door twice and the phone twice. I'm beginning to understand why it takes so long for me to accomplish anything, and why even when I am doing several things at once, I feel like I'm not doing any of them well.
Now it's your turn. Is multitasking possible? I want examples! And they must be things that can be done simultaneously without any one task suffering because your attention is divided.
I'm going to go try the almonds again.


  1. Well I was drinking coke whilst reading your blog. Does that count? I didn't spill my coke and I read every word.

    I love your posts, how do you manage to write about such everyday things in such an interesting way?

  2. other than the example that YT gave, I saw that multitasking is impossible, at least for me. If I have two things going on at once, I short-circuit. It creates stress and I simply crash or shut down under that kind of stress. I supposed I am an extreme case, but for me I can only do one thing at a time.


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