From Pipi’s Pasture: Multi-tasking
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about multi-tasking which involves doing more than one thing at a time. People have varying views on the subject. Some pride themselves on how well they are able to multi-task; others say they can’t do it so well. I try to do some things at the same time; sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.
When I was in college, I worked some hours at the dormitory switchboard. In those days there were no cell phones so dormitory residents got their calls through the switchboard. As calls came in the switchboard lit up, and it was my job to connect the calls to the correct rooms and even push a button (as I remember) so the room’s phone would ring. To call out, hall residents picked up the phone, a light came on at the switchboard, and they asked for an outside line. Sometimes there were lights everywhere on the switchboard with too many calls to handle.
I picture my brain as a sort of switchboard that also gets overwhelmed with too much incoming information. This “picture” I have is highly unscientific, of course, but I find I can do more than one thing at a time if the chores are routine—those things that I’ve done so often I could do them in my sleep. For example, I can wash dishes and clean up the kitchen at the same time, relying on the dryer buzzer to let me know that the clothes are dry and I can fold them before they wrinkle.
I can water the lawn as I do other things, relying on my brain to help me remember to check the clock as I time the watering. When the hour is up, I move the hose. However, remembering to shut off the hose when filling the stock tanks is another matter. I’ve written a lot about starting the water in a tank and going off to do other corral chores. Probably because I routinely do these chores, I think about other things, and all the thinking keeps my brain occupied. The result is often negative. Many times I have gotten up at night, put on my shoes, and found a flashlight. A trip to the corral was necessary to be assured that I had turned the water off.
Trying to cook and do other things is tricky, too, depending on the cooking chore. I have learned that when I’m hard boiling eggs, I need to be conscious of what’s going on. Doing other things too often takes my mind off the boiling eggs and the pot boils dry. One time, years ago, I had eggs boiling on the stove, and I walked out on the deck to watch my grandson Kenny as he played with his trucks. I got involved with his play, and before I knew it there were popping sounds. The dry eggs were popping all over the kitchen. Kenny has never forgotten the incident.
I have learned that to try to multi-task jobs that involve all kinds of paperwork and decision-making just does not work for me. I liken it to the dormitory switchboard with too many lights. My brain just gets too overloaded. I start to make mistakes. I forget things. It happened to me lately. I’m learning to pace myself with these types of tasks.
Where do you stand on multi-tasking?
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