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Mom Rule #43: Multitasking is for Maniacs

Random rules for gliding through motherhood with a smile.

I need to stop multitasking. I think you should too. It sounds impossible, because we’ve been doing it for so long. I think I'm good at it, but is it good for me?

At this very moment I'm writing, I’m thinking I need to switch the laundry over to the dryer. I’m keeping an eye on my preschooler, sitting next to me painting, and my seven-year-old on the other side cutting out a picture to glue into a scrapbook. I’m listening to my 11-year-old talk about how she is going to be 12 and that is practically 13 and aren’t I totally excited about it?

I may only be multitasking in my mind at this moment, but I'm planning. I’m thinking about going outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, the dishwasher that needs to be unloaded, an appointment later today, the email (or five) I forgot to send and the coffee I want to drink but have yet to make.

It’s making me crazy. And at the end of the day, exhausted, I have a hard time remembering how I spent my time. I feel like a mouse on a wheel. And that reminds me that I haven’t squeezed in time for exercise recently.

Multitasking makes me a maniac. It steals my calm (I know it’s in there somewhere). It steals the joy from the moment because I’m constantly moving on to the next task before fully completing or enjoying the previous one.

Just for the record, I hate the cartoon that I've included above. It gives the impression that a mom should be able to do everything, everything in full make-up, with freshly highlighted, bouncy hair and a smile. 

Hang on...

I need to fetch a glue stick now. I need to fetch a fresh paper towel to clean a paint spill, too.

Pause...

I’m back, though I really need to run again. I’m going to stop and follow this rule... first thing tomorrow morning.

Jennifer Pashkin Scott September 28, 2011 at 01:01 PM
I loved this post, Amy! Thanks for writing it. It serves as a GREAT reminder! I wrote a similar post a while back on my work blog... Here's an excerpt. "I’ve noticed a lot of buzz recently around the topic of multitasking. The thought used to be that if you could multitask, you were ahead of the game. The ability to focus on more than one thing at a time was seen as a great quality.... In this electronic age where it is so copiously possible to do so many things at one time (tweet while watching TV; comment on social media posts while sitting in a classroom; play on your laptop or tablet while doing just about anything; texting while also sitting and socializing with live people…) the buzz now is about focusing on a single task and not multitasking at all. Research is being done, and to some extent it is actually showing that people who work on one thing at a time complete more than the people who multitask. Studies are suggesting that the level of multitasking does matter, but at a certain point it actually becomes counter-productive." So, if all that's true.... how do you stay focused on only the task at hand? Any tips out there?

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