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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Multitasking Done Well

multitasking-womanIs that a misnomer? Is it possible to multitask and do two or more chores well at the same time?

The anterior part of the brain allows us to return to assignments and pick up where we left off without too much trouble. (I would say that depends on the difficulty of the job and the amount of time elapsed, but I’m no neurologist….)

However, when switching back and forth between or among various duties, it gets dicey. Productivity and accuracy plummet. Studies have been done with students who text or Facebook while doing college work… and it’s not good. Studies have been done in my kitchen while baking one thing, sautéing another, defrosting something else and plating up dishes… and it’s not good, either. Something suffers.

For me, there’s a basic algorithm for meaningful and effective multitasking. This is about as scientific as my commonsense reasoning allows and based multitaskingentirely on my own abilities: I can balance two to 2.5 tasks simultaneously and by that, I mean doing them well. The half-task (0.5) comes from anything that is not ongoing, in other words something that is semi-immediate or instantaneous: greeting a colleague, petting a dog, reminding a child to take his/her backpack, kissing a spouse hello or goodbye.

But two would be the limit in my multitasking and even then, one might be limited to repetitive, no-brainer which could rely on sheer muscle memory. For instance, I might be walking on a treadmill, watching the news on TV, and chatting with a friend. That sounds like three tasks, but the walking is pure muscle memory and it’s not like jogging on the street where one would need to be aware of dangerous persons, changing streetlights and traffic patterns, open manholes, etc. The news might go to commercial and then you pick up your conversation with the person next to you. So while it appears to be simultaneous actions, it could be that you simply are able to switch activities smoothly and efficiently.

multitaskingSome people cannot multitask. My husband, for instance. Perhaps his mind is consumed with deep thoughts that the rest of us don’t possess. Try to get his attention for more than 30 seconds at a time — good luck with that. Or, could be that he is used to tuning out a lot of nonsense, so in essence, that is his second chore. As well as thinking deep thoughts. Therefore, he’s already on overload!

Know what works for you. Cut out much of the rest. Focus and do what you need to do well.

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