Lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the concept of multitasking. I’ve always prided myself in being able to juggle lots of things at once. I’m a project manager. I’m a coordinator. I’m an instigator. I am an air traffic controller for designers… which sometimes is like directing planes driven by clowns (please note: I’ve got nothing but love for my creative co-workers, however, they don’t always drive in straight lines).
But have I been kidding myself? Is multitasking really just distractedly doing things? Or, as my dad would say it, am I splitting a whole ass in half? I mean, when considering asses, a whole ass is better than a half ass right? (ohmigosh… asses).
When I watch a movie I'm also painting my nails. When I cook eggs I’m also listening to the morning news from my iPad. When I talk to my Mom on the phone I’m either driving in the car or walking to a meeting. And when I’m taking a bath, dinner is also in the oven, I’m waiting for a video to upload, I’ve got a reminder moments from dinging to purchase that item on eBay, and there’s laundry in the dryer.
You can’t tell me that one half of those asses is suffering to make up for the attention spent on the other. I’m polishing my pinky and nearly miss that non verbal detail that single handily changes the entire plot of the film. My interest is peaked by the unbearable conditions in (name a place) they're talking about on the news and I burn my breakfast. I’m listening intently to my Mom talk about her day and walk directly into that puddle of slush.
“Damn it!” I shout.
“Excuse me?” my Mom says.
“Ugh, I’m sorry Mom. I gotta call you back.”
And what’s so relaxing about a bath when my mind is in 4 other places?
All this time I’ve prided myself on being able to juggle these things. I get paid for this skill. It’s literally listed on my resume as a strength. But does that make me a jester?
I just called my Mom back, “Mom! I’m joining the circus!” - Kidding.
I recently read an article from 99u titled '7 Habits of Incredible Happy People.' Number 1 on the list: Be Busy, But Not Rushed. The article reads, “The porridge is just right when you’re living a productive life at a comfortable pace. Meaning: you should be expanding your comfort zone often, but not as much that you feel overwhelmed.”
The two keys here are ‘productivity’ and ‘pace.’
As I continued reading I started thinking more about how productivity and pace apply in my life. In short, I don’t do well sitting still - anyone I’ve ever lived with can attest to this. I specifically remember hearing my Mom say to me after I had moved out of their house that she, “missed me, because without me the furniture never gets rearranged which means no one has vacuumed under the couch in months.”
But to me, rearranging furniture and vacuuming was never a chore. Afterwards, I felt accomplished, like I had contributed that day. You see, I’m the most satisfied when I accomplish things. For me, when I accomplish things I feel productive. When I accomplish a lot of things I feel VERY productive.
The article mentions ‘being overwhelmed’ which isn’t a feeling I get very often. I’ve mastered (so far) how to 'split my asses’ in a way that one half isn’t suffering because of the other.
All that considered, I do realize that I (and everyone else) have my limits. When I reach the point of being stressed I know it’s time to slow the pace. But holy cow… the feeling I get from those moments right before crossing that limit is such a natural high for me. How much can I take? How many things can I do at once?
So while some might call it being distracted, I think that for me multitasking really IS a skill. And not only that, but also… my happy place.