Posted in Of Psyche

Of Multi-Tasking

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To Do List (Courtesy: Pixabay)

Women are supposed to be good at multi-tasking.

I am a woman. Have been for quite a while now.

I am NO good at multi-tasking.

Therefore, either my bullies were partially right about my status as a woman. Or the above generalization about women is false. I would very much like to encourage another cliche and ask all women reading this to mention if they, or someone female they know, aren’t as good at multi-tasking as pop psychology would have us believe. Women Non-Multitaskers Unite.

I had some extremely tedious work to do the last few weeks. I barely slept 2-3 hours every night, the rest was spent struggling with it. I tried playing music to ease the pain, especially late at night when everything goes quiet and anyone with a tired brain and an overactive imagination starts to imagine creatures coming to get them. But, I just couldn’t do it. The music interfered every time. If my instincts had to choose, no matter the hour or the impending doom of incomplete work, it will always go for the music first. Pleasure, yes. Boredom, no. Human, check. Woman, hope so.

I can only guess, but I do believe there is some truth to the idea of women as natural multi-taskers. They must have had to evolve that way, even in the hunting-gathering days, or when we lived in packs. There’s just so much to do. I often tell myself I accomplished β€œnothing” in a day, but if I had to go through every detail, a lot will stack up. But, the idea is not to do a lot of things, but to do, at least, two simultaneously.

Again, that doesn’t seem much of a stretch. Most of us find it hard to meditate, or be in a mindful state, because there’s a lot going on. Even the dullest, most repetitive environments are providing stimuli for all your senses. And your brain, whether consciously or not, keeps processing information that has come before, and anticipating what is to come. And then, there are your dreams and desires. Things that are not immediately affecting your person, perhaps bear no connection to you in terms of any external validation you get, but matter to you a great deal. Like the music you play, the YouTube videos you watch, the idle things you talk about with your friends, partner, family etc.

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Woman With A To-Do List (Couresy: Pixabay)

In short, I maybe able to do only one thing with my hands at a time, but there’s still a lot going on in my mind. Even when I sleep. Oh yes, your brain doesn’t β€œrest” even then, even though you may not be actively dreaming. Even when you are as still as possible, there’s probably a lot going on with you.

But, some of us choose to multi-task, or fall into it. I don’t need to explain this any further to all the parents reading this. Who knows, I might become a multi-tasker if I get to have the privilege of being a parent. Motivation is key. If you can motivate yourself to do it, like listen to an audio recording of your lecture notes as you prepare dinner, or have a conversation with your friend as you repair a broken home appliance, you have to be willing to do either.

Motivation and emotion are governed by the same area of the brain. You can’t do something, anything, unless you can convince yourself to do it. I hated my recent, all-consuming task, and I was looking for motivation in all the wrong places. I was looking for motivation in rewards. I thought music would ease the pain. Looking up restaurants on the Zomato App would give me something to look forward to once it was over. Even the sight of my bed, which is the worst possible motivation when you are trying to stay awake at 4 in the morning.

What I should have done was what I used to do at a simpler time. A time when MTV and VH1 made music harder to come by (literally, for by the time I was watching MTV, it hardly played music). I would do a certain amount of work, and then treat myself to a music video, which I already knew when it was going to be played, having noted the air time on Sunday (that’s how video rotation worked on MTV India in those days). The anticipation of music works better than the gratification of it.

Do you multi-task? What’s your secret? What are the tasks you have to juggle?

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Author:

Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

37 thoughts on “Of Multi-Tasking

  1. [ Smiles ] I personally know a few women who are not good a multitasking.
    There is no shame in not being able to multitask.
    Doing one thing splendidly at a time is all that matters!

    1. Ha ha, glad to know my little club is growing!
      I agree, I work better in obsessions. Divide and Conquer just doesn’t work for me.
      Thank you for reading and responding!😁

  2. I’m one of the club. I have no multi-tasking ability. My brain simply doesn’t embrace a task without dropping the one before it. I’ve tried to, say, put the potatoes on to cook, then quickly check my e-mails β€” but when I get back to the kitchen my pot has boiled dry and the potatoes are ruined. Meanwhile the iron I plugged in fifteen minutes ago and forgot about has long since shut itself off. πŸ™‚

    1. Ha ha! I once left the iron on all night because I was so distracted with my phone. Never again! Thank you for sharing and joining our little club!😁

      1. Should I tell you about the time I wanted to have a bath, so turned on the water in the tub, and then decided my dress needed ironing, and then…
        After a bit my hubby said, “Are you washing clothes? I hear water running but it sounds funny.”
        I ran into the bathroom and the tub was overflowing all over the floor. (We live in a mobile home so the water went down into the ground and thankfully not down into an apartment below. :())
        No multi-tasking with bath-water ever after!

      2. Oh God, that is a nightmare! I was once washing clothes in the washing machine, and left the drain button on while I was on the phone. There was a mini-tsunami in my flat that day, though I thankfully don’t have people living downstairs as well!

  3. Well! Males have to do multi tasking as well.
    The one’s who stay away from home or the one one’s who are married to a girl who is a working professional. i have seen things changing a lot in recent years. Males are understanding their roles very much,they’re happy in proving helping hands to their working wives.

    1. Oh, definitely. Everyone has to multitask to some extent (even children, with all their schoolwork and activities!), but it often comes up in pop psychology that women are more efficient at it. Just like they’re ‘supposed’ to be more emotionally intuitive. I know several men who get a lot done in a day, as well as help others out. Much respect to them.😁

  4. Hooray for someone willing to stand up for people who don’t bask in the multi-tasking role. Most of the mistakes I make with mum are because of trying to take care of her first and me second. Only they are at the same time. I do read and cook at the same time, but I read in my kitchen and keep my nose and ears attuned to the oven and stove top.

    1. Wow, then you are one of the multitasking geniuses, Kris! I’d probably place my book (or worse, my kindle) in the pan than read and cook successfully!
      Hope you’re having a productive day!😁

      1. nooooo, I have learned to be careful. Do NOT distract me from cooking and reading with something else. It will all go to heck in a handbasket!!!

  5. I read a book (Productivity Project) last year that suggested none of us are good at multi-tasking. It feels productive when we attempt to do it but we’re accomplishing less & at a lower quality.
    The author explained it with a venn diagram of time/energy/attention, naturally I bought in right away.
    I attempted to non-multitask while reading here Amrita and I enjoyed this post!

    1. Happy to have your undivided attention, though also worried mistakes will show up more!
      I find it is better to do different tasks in sizeable chunks interchangeably, than simultaneously. Doing one thing at a stretch can also get tedious. I hope there’s a theory that justifies that!

      1. Oh I’m a firm believer in listening to music while doing things – I wouldn’t call that multitasking I suppose, more just making tedious tasks more tolerable!

  6. Great read! Sometimes it’s better to give all your attention to one task than to give a little of your attention to several different tasks. Better to do it right the first time right? Haha. I don’t think its a gender thing though, just like mothers and single mothers multitask when caring for their children, fathers and single fathers do exactly the same. I think it just depends on your lifestyle growing up. Kids who’s parents “babied” them and did every task they could for their child have a harder time learning how to multitask than children who’s parents expected them to do as much on their own as possible, (if that makes sense.) THat’s from my perspective anyway, but great read again! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Absolutely agree with you! Nobody talks about kids multitasking, but they’ve to do so much in so little time! One minute its maths, the next basketball!
      Work itself, is not a gender thing. Everybody has to do it, just not every task has monetary rewards.☺
      Thank you for reading and your amazing response!

  7. Really enjoyed this and couldn’t agree more. I am a parent and I work and I have 3 hobbies that I really enjoy and make a priority …as a result…my house is a dirty pit. I save one day a week to clean it and that day it looks great. The mind races at all hours of the night…just have to add meditating to the list of things that are a MUST and I’m sure it will help. If only there was more time in a day….

    1. Ha ha, how strange are we, to have to schedule in relaxation as well!
      There should be more time in a day, for the way the hours are divided now just isn’t enough!😁
      Thank you for reading and your wonderful response!

  8. First two lines had me laughing πŸ˜€ although I’m mediocre at multi-tasking (i.e. I can do it when I want to – keyword “when”), I can totally relate to what you said about music. It’s supposed to help you work, but I just end up drifting into my own world or – even worse – lip-syncing to the song.

    1. I think lip syncing is totally cool! I always sing along when I know the words. I even found that when I’m trying to stay awake late at night to work, singing helps me!
      I’m so glad to know there’s someone else who finds it hard to listen to music while working.πŸ˜€ Thank you for reading!

  9. Even though we live in an age when you are “suppose” to multi-task… you are really suppose to do one task at a time until completed and move to the next… our culture nowadays need to get back to one thing at a time so the job will be focused and completed correctly the first time.

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