Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Art of Multitasking (Issue #160)

You hear a lot these days about multitasking. My parents would have referred to it as “busy.” I guess, like “domestic engineer,” it’s a dressed-up word for an everyday kind of a thing. It seems kids have co-opted it now though. It can still mean “busy” but sometimes it means “don’t wanna.”

“Son, I asked you refill the humidifier two hours ago.”

“Dad! I’m multitasking here!”

“No, you’re not. You’re playing a video game and breathing through your mouth. That doesn’t count.”

Kids. And they have the gall to complain when someone really is multitasking.

“Dad, how long you gonna be?”


“I left my watch in there after my shower.”

“Oh, I dunno. Maybe another 15-20 minutes. Hard to say.”

“Jeez! You know, some people can go to the bathroom in less than an hour.”

“So? Some people can turn their eyelids inside out. Others eat insects. And some cheer for the Yankees. Doesn’t mean I have to.”

“But an hour in the bathroom? And you’re just sitting there!”

“Ha! I am not just sitting here! I am multitasking! I have the radio on to listen to the news, which, by the way, I can no longer hear at the moment. I have my large mug of tea from which I sip from time to time. This gives me some caffeine, enough so that I am able to maintain a pleasant disposition and not lose my temper with inconsiderate sons who yell through bathroom doors and disturb their father. I am also working on a crossword puzzle. The New York Times’. In ink.”

“Big whoop.”

“Besides, it’s hardly ever an hour. These days, my legs fall asleep at around the 30-40 minute mark. Lemme tell ya, it’s heck getting old.”

He left before I could elaborate.

My sons think because they can walk and listen to an iPod and hardly ever fall down, they’re whizzes at multitasking.

I just wonder how well they’d do if they were daydreaming while fishing. It’s not easy to notice a disappearing bobber and still set the hook in time while rescuing Susan Sarandon from a rampaging buffalo as that Tim Robbins guy cowers in fear.

And let them just try playing Cribbage with their Significant Other and making the appropriate conversational noises while peeking over her shoulder at the tv to keep tabs on the game.

It takes patience, wisdom, experience and a heck of a lot of trial n’ error to evolve into a competent multitasker. And perseverance. Mustn’t forget that one. You can’t let the occasional little faux pas derail your development. Once in a while, you’re gonna answer the tv remote when the phone rings. It happens. Just shrug it off and get back to reading the paper, munching chips and watching the game. If you’re still feeling a little bad, use the picture-in-picture function and watch two games.

Some people though, like in just about every human endeavour, take it to an absurd extreme.

We’ve all either seen or heard about the woman driving down the highway at 120 kph (70mph), holding a newspaper and cup of coffee in one hand while applying her makeup with the other and talking on her cell phone.

Dumb as a bag of doorknobs. Not only will she retain very little of what she reads, she’s apt to smear her mascara and everybody at work will laugh at her.


Hilary said...

I can read your blog and roll my eyes at the same time!

And laugh. ;)

Editor said...

that was good, wish I could get this working and blogging at the same time figured out.

Stace said...

Just don't try to answer the iron...

Frank Baron said...

Hilary, I always knew you had a talent! ;)

Editor, it would be nice to have an extra hour or two a day wouldn't it?

Stace - wise words. I'm writing that down. :)

Stace said...

I'm full of wise words. Like "cogitate". That's a very wise word. And "ruminate"

Reb said...

You neglected to mention the mess she will leave on the hwy.

Nita said...

Frank, you are a man among men. Because I thought men did not, could not, would not, multi-task. Here you are telling me you do it all the time.

Frank Baron said...

Stace, stop! I'm getting paper cuts from my dictionary! :)

Reb, I was hoping it was understood. :)

It's true Nita! I hardly ever seldom only sometimes exaggerate too!

MagnoliaGirl said...

Oh Frank, were you in the Tampa Bay area recently? It wasn't a newspaper, it was a magazine I was reading, and it was eyeliner, not mascara, you silly thing!:)

Frank Baron said...

Ha! Good one MG. :)

Jo said...

Hmm, sometimes I have trouble applying mascara when that's all I'm doing. I think driving will help!

Frank Baron said...

Oh crud. You didn't hear it from me....

Lisa Romeo said...

I hear the folks at Webster's have a new definition for the word "multi-tasker" -- PARENT.

The antidote, I'm told, is every once in a while, a day of NON-multi-taskikng.

Like today -- I'm tending a quasi-sick child (by merely sitting on the couch nearby), trying NOT to listen to/watch the movie he's watching, catching up on very important computer-related tasks (can't you tell?), fending off a soft deadline (they don't count till they've hardened, right?), and NOT making lunch ('cause a semi-sick kid needs a bland diet, no?). Later, I plan to NOT take in the mail, let the older kid walk home from school, call for pizza delivery, and watch TV instead of working tonight.


Frank Baron said...

Good stuff Lisa. Your evening plans sound like a suitable reward for your earlier, heroic multitasking. :)

the Bag Lady said...

The Bag Lady multi-tasks all the time...coffee, cigarette, blogging. Is there anything else? Oh, yes, fending off the cats and dog, vying for her attention. *Oops, guess she should have let that critter out...now she has to devote all her attention to cleaning THAT up!*

Kappa no He said...

I heard a great interview the other day...the scientist called it "contstant partial attention". She wrote a neat book about it too. I could recomend it, but I was feeding the dog while shooing the cat off the kitchen counter and didn't jot the lady's name down. Darnit.

Frank Baron said...

I hear ya Bag Lady. It just never stops. I was walking with Hilary the other day and she insisted on talking at the same time. It was all I could do to stay on my feet and nod. ;)

Kappa, I feel your pain. Or would if I could focus on what you wrote while writing myself. No easy task.... ;)

Thanks both, for the visit. :)

Travis Erwin said...

I'm a multitasker. i can put off five o six different tasks at the same time.

Frank Baron said...

Travis, you need to share that gift with others. Have you considered teaching? ;)