I’ve always been successful at time management. I meet every deadline and am always the first to arrive at a get-together. While this is partially just a sense of tacit responsibility, I’m also a skilled multitasker. I blow dry my hair while my Eggos are in the toaster and my foundation is moisturizer and a sunscreen. But I’m always careful not to mix in an important task with the trivial. Case in point: rumor has it that Little Bo Beep was actually engrossed in a heated game of Rock Band when she “lost” her sheep.
Multitasking has always been that magical word we use to convey our perceived power over the time-space continuum; yet as the number of things we can do at one time increases as quickly as our Facebook friends list, our ability to do each task well is devolving. These days, we believe a claim of “multitasking” to be an indicator of brilliance, which our ability to finish a power point presentation while balancing our check book while texting our boyfriend all whilst actively listening to a discussion on third quarter financials clearly illustrates. It’s the stone with which we kill fourteen birds. Who do we think we’re fooling?
If we miss an action item on a conference call, we think this word acts as our shield. When we drop a ball, skip a meeting, or move the wrong number of spaces on the Candyland board, we assume this word protects us from repercussion or embarrassment. When silence ensues after being asked a question, we believe “sorry I was multitasking,” translates into “simmer down I was busy curing world hunger,” when what it really means is, “I was reading Cosmo and have no idea what just happened.”
Now, I understand there are only twenty-four hours in a day and it’s almost impossible to fit in the basic eight hours of work and a yoga class let alone a viewing of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy and thirty-six hand-written thank you notes from your baby’s first birthday. But if you attempt to multitask your way out of this situation you might be caught signing all your cards with “Namaste” and missing the entire mind-numbing journey to Mount Doom.
True multitasking does exist, but it only works if you keep it simple – like learning Russian while on the Stairmaster, or reading War and Peace while getting a pedicure, or eating cookie dough while the oven preheats. If you attempt too much at once, you’re likely to end up leaving your ten year old son home over Christmas or accidentally setting the flux capacitor for 1885. While it feels good to accomplish so much in so little time, think of what you might be missing.