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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Multi-tasking. Asset or Addiction?

In a time when there has to be a law against texting and driving, and fast food restaurants have provided us with meals on wheels, how far will we take the concept of multi-tasking? Is multi-tasking an asset or an addiction?

I’m an avid multi-tasker from way back, myself. Call me obsessive compulsive or call me efficient, I’ve become adept at juggling many projects simultaneously.

I used to do homework and listen to music at the same time when I was growing up. As a parent I learned to do at least five things at once. Now I watch TV as I write, though I confess I cannot listen to music while I write. Even without caffeine, I have a ridiculous capacity for doing many tasks at once.

But is it the adrenalin rush that has me so dependent on my Android phone? Or is there a bigger plot we have as yet to uncover? Muaaaahhhha! The internet allows us to be in many places at one time, and technology offers us limitless possibilities. Scary? Yes. Exciting? You bet. Addictive? Maybe. So when is enough really way too much? These are a few of my quirky little multi-tasking obsessions…er…tricks.

1) I practice singing, plot out scenes in my current WIP, or plan my next marketing strategy while in the shower or while I’m out walking my dog in the woods.
2) I exercise while watching last night’s shows or catching up on episodes of Days Of Our Lives.
3) I check messages and e-mails while waiting for my next appointment or, I hate to confess, waiting for the light to turn green.

How do you know when you’ve gone too far?

You know you are doing too much when you are texting or checking your e-mails while sitting on the toilet.

You know when you are doing too much when you have six Scrabble games going at the same time and you are still working a full time job.

You know you are doing too much when you forget to eat, shower, sleep…you fill in the random necessity you’ve forgotten.

You know you are doing too much when Amazon algorithms become your next focused thought.

So tell me readers, “What crazy multi-tasking habits do you have?”


  1. It has indeed become important to me to accomplish 2+ things at once. I take my MP3 player into the grocery store and listen to audio programs while I shop. I read a book in the fast-food drive-through or school car lane. If it takes a while for an internet page or computer program to load, I click over to do something else rather than wait. Sometimes, I act like every minute matters. And sometimes, I waste time by doing hardly even one thing.

  2. Oh my, Julie. I've truly found my people. LOL

    I hear you about wasting time and occasionally flaking out and getting nothing done. Thos emoments are frustrating to us doers, but I think necessary to maintain our sanity.

  3. I am true multi-tasker. Home-schooling while doing laundry and combing the cats...and oh, yeah, writing a novel as I fly by the computer to go to my paying job. I actually get angry wwhen I can't get it all done. But I have to ask myself if this healthy. I think not, but what am I to do???

    Oh, and sorry about the Scrabble!!! Didn't mean to give you another addiction!

  4. I do think there is an evil plot beneath this insane business. Someone wants to keep us too busy to actually be in the moment and enjoy our lives. I suggest BREATHING as a remedy.

    Scrabble is keeping me sane, but I will have to cut myself off if I want to get ON THIN ICE out by December 15th.Yikes, is that really seven weeks away?

  5. No matter what I'm doing, I'm coming up with another story or plot twist. Working out is excellent for this. Everything is fodder for the next novel.
    Cooking dinner, while I catch the weather and input chapter book keeping. Guilty.

  6. I HATE what multi-tasking is doing to my life, so I am endeavoring to change. I read e-mails and talk on the phone and answer my iPhone and talk to my kids all at the same time. And nothing gets done well if I do it that way. My kids don't get the loving attention they need. I'm irritated about having to read so many e-mails, I am not happy about talking to people at the same time that I'm doing all the rest of the stuff. I'm going to try to do one thing at a time and do it well.

  7. I don't really multi-task unless it's something that can take care of itself once I start it like laundry. I can't listen to music while I read or write unless it's an instrumental because the words in a song draw me away. I can't talk to someone and type something different, my brain doesn't work that way. (shrug)

  8. I plot or work out character tangles as I clean house. Hey, it's mindless work. I'd either be listening to audio books or music anyway. I read on the toilet, even if I'm in there less than a minute. Yes, I'm that desperate to read just a few words of fiction. I work on blog topics when we travel.

    However, I find that with many activities, I ruin them by multitasking. Cooking is one of them. It's easy to burn what I'm cooking if I'm trying to fold laundry and play with the dog at the same time. :D

    Great post.

  9. Sandy, Gonna, Patti, and Catie--Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts on multi-tasking. I see we are all battling this demon. I say let's all fight back by stopping to breathe and smell the roses at least a couple of times today.

  10. Of course, by Gonna I meant Donna. Sorry, I was multi-tasking. Does everyone hate auto correct on their Android?

  11. Holy cow! Are you spying on me? I'm a serial multi-tasker. I think I might have eight arms. I guess I need to pull back a little since I'm guilty of a few of those things you mentioned (I won't say which ones!). I can't help plotting when I take my daily walk, when I'm doing the paying job, in the shower. I've gotten some of my best ideas while stiring a pot in the stove. But I do need to cut back on the internet time. I'm working on that one.

  12. p.s. I really stir the pot on the stove. Not in it! Haha!

  13. Great post! I guess we all feel things will fall through the cracks if we're not doing more than one thing at a time. But, I'm trying. I need to de-stress. I've found that the more I try to do the more stressed I become. So, I'm taking things one at a time now. Mostly. Well, okay...I'm trying, darn it! LOL Although, like someone else said, I hate waiting for a slow page to download, so I'm still off to something else while waiting for that. :-)

  14. Kudos for the effort, Rhonda. Awareness is the first step to recovery. LOL

  15. I have admit, I'm not a good multi-tasker. Even simple things like watching tv or listening to music whilst writing will sometimes put me write off!

    The only time I allow my mind to wander nowadays is when I'm doing something mindless like walking or cleaning etc, then I'll start plotting etc.

    Of course, checking email on my iphone is a different matter. That manages to go where ever I do and I very often think, "Do I really need to refresh my inbox when I'm trying to relax in the bath?" ;) lol

    Interesting post!

  16. Xandra, Thanks for visiting my blog. I laughed out loud about the checking the e-mail in the tub. That's a new one on me. Don't give me any ideas.

  17. Oh boy can I identify with this post! Especially with Katy Lee's comment. I'm a homeschooling mom with six cats and a husband whose business is run from the first floor of my home. Mutli-tasking is the same as breathing in this house.

    I think the most bizarre act (feat?) of multi-tasking I've accomplished has been studying Italian with my daughter as I cooked and folded laundry. Everything just 'fit'. I'd set one timer as another went off. Of course, no one noticed but me. :-/

    It's great to know how many of us are doing the same thing. lol. Great post, PJ!

  18. Thanks for commenting, Debra. I think multi-tasking is a woman thing! I love that you are learning Italian--something I'd like to do as well some day. Along with playing the Ukeleli--although not necessarily at the same time. I also love the multiple timers image. I have something constantly ringing, beeping or buzzing these days. LOL