Thursday, February 18, 2010

How multitasking is not a good thing sometimes

Everyone thinks that they can multitask. Everytime you see someone on the phone as they drive, texting as they drive, texting as they cross the street (and sometimes blithely STOP in the middle of the street as they do so), work on the computer as they chat with someone either on the phone or over the cubicle wall or outside the office — anyway, you get my point. Multitasking is part of our lives.

But it’s not necessarily something we should be doing. Note the rising number of accidents because drivers are chatting or texting and not paying attention to the traffic. Or, in my case, trying to podcast as I’m trying to make dinner. This morning I have a lovely wound at the tip of my thumb because I was chopping carrots and managed to scrape off the epidermis into my curry mixture. To my credit, I didn’t scream; I did keep talking and wadded a paper towel onto my thumb, chatting away as I lost blood.

That’s not so bad, you think. It was fun times, I tell you. I sliced off a bit of my thumb, but then the coffee I was trying to make kept not getting made and I didn’t notice, only to discover that my cup had a hairline fracture, so the water went all over — and I kept pouring water in, not realizing I had already prepared it, only noticing after the podcast that water was everywhere. I just kept thinking I hadn’t done it because I was chatting and bleeding all over the place.

And there’s more: my cellphone battery kept beeping, telling me it was almost dead, so when it did die (during a Q&A), I had to grab another phone and log in again.

And that was all during one podcast. So multitasking is a lovely theory, but I’ve known for some time that it’s not for me, or at least not most of the time. Think about this the next time you think you can do more than one thing, or even two things, at a time. Maybe you can … and maybe you can’t.

Eilis Flynn
INTRODUCING SONIKA and ECHOES OF PASSION (both are available at and on Kindle, incidentally)