Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Disease of Busy-ness (that is not a typo) & How There is No Such Thing as Multi-Tasking (nor Santa)

Chances are that you are probably reading this blog post on your Iphone while standing in line at the grocery store half-chatting with the checkout clerk and half-yelling at the kids NO, you cannot have a candy bar.  That's ok with me, as I don't presume to be sharing any earth-shattering ground-breaking news.

But maybe that's a small part of the bigger problem.  My lack of confidence that says, "Go ahead and be distracted." And the other part being, you, on your Iphone.

Now, before you send me any "Looky here, bitch" messages, think about it.  We are busy ALL THE TIME.  We think we're the kings and queens of multi-tasking....but are we?

Truth is, there is no such thing as being a master of multi-tasking (except maybe Santa who delivers all those toys at the same time, but he doesn't really exist).  You are either exceptional at doing several things terribly to moderately ok all at the same time, OR you are exceptional at doing one thing fantastically well at a single time.  There is no such thing as being able to give 100% and being able to multi-task, but the corporate world and necessity of a double income home and the modern (in)conveniences all say that we can.

During a recent interview, I was asked how well am I able to multi-task.  I gave the usual exceptional response and gave examples from both my subbing and administrative/legal background.  But the truth is, I am terrible at it, and for them to ask me shows me that they are terrible at it, too.  Scientific studies have proven time and time again how we are incapable of performing several tasks at one time.  Otherwise, parents would not feel so frazzled when trying to simultaneously cook dinner and feed the baby and answer the phone.  The receptionist in your office typically isn't given high-priority/detail-oriented tasks because (s)he experiences too many interruptions. Realistically, successful multi-tasking is the ability to properly prioritize several tasks demanded upon you at any given time.  The problem is, that we are all so busy and pumped full of a "I-have-to" mentality that we fail to prioritize things properly. 

This can be related to doing work (of course, by this I mean hitting the gym).  Some of you needed that initial motivator of a buddy to get your workouts going, but when you decided to hit it hard and go deeper, chances are you went your separate ways.  You both needed to focus, with nothing but music as your metronome and cold steel as your sparring partner.  The initial days of chatting while jogging on the track or in the neighborhood were long gone when you decided to sign up for your second 5- or 10k marathon.  That buddy system wasn't wrong, in fact, it was brilliant!  It was the entryway for you to develop a deeper practice.  But there came a time when you realized that you couldn't run your goal time or hit your legs quite as hard when you kept rehashing last night's episode of Sons of Anarchy.

So why multi-task at all? Because there is a societal guilt that if we can't do all the things we basically suck at life.  Which is why in the middle of my breast exam yesterday, my ob-gyn thought it was ok to pick up her cell phone even when she did not recognize the number.

But, of course that's not true (I mean the-suck-at-life-if-we-can't-do-it-all part, not the mid-booby-massage-cell-phone-pick-up which totally happened). Think about it: there isn't a single one X-Men character that can do everything.  Instead, they are each specialized in one area of awesome. You don't see them boo-hooing that they can't fly and transform and burn shit all the same time.  Instead, they're like, hey I'll just use this one awesome way of saving the world or killing you instead of trying to be all busy with too many powers to use at one time.

So, don't be a douchebag.  Get off your Iphone, firmly tell your kid to pipe down with the diabetes, and smile and engage with your checkout clerk. Chances are (s)he isn't impressed with how busy and multi-tasky you are and guess what?  Since you took that little extra moment to be present, to use gym-like focus and be all X-Men awesome in this now, you won't drive like a distracted jerk on your way home. I'll be sure to honk and wave in appreciation when I see you.

Oh, and PS:  I was kidding.  There is a Santa.  He's an X-Men, too.


  1. Oh man I love your X-Men bit!!
    And I got one better for you. When I was pregnant and getting checked my OB was down in my Whoo-Ha when he answered his phone!!!

    1. AUGH! That's awful! Why do they think it's ok to do that? But I suppose if our car mechanics can answer the phone when under the hood, our cervical mechanics can too.....?