I LOVE MONDAYS Tip of the Week
This morning, I walked into my office to check whether RCN is coming today or tomorrow to look at our phones. I can’t remember why. On the (very short) journey from the kitchen to my office, I wondered, Did I remember to sign Risa’s permission slip? Yes, last night. Phew. I took a few more steps and froze. Yikes, I forgot to sign up to volunteer for the spring fair this week. I strode into my office with purpose, sat down and looked at the options for the fair sign-up. Dunk tank? No. Wacky Castle Bouncer? God, no. Flip a Frog Game? Yeah, okay. I typed in my name for the 7 PM slot with a desperate hope that the game doesn’t call for real frogs. (It can't, right?) Thirty minutes later, I remembered that I hadn’t checked about RCN. The buzzer rang (it was RCN.) I remembered that I need to get back to my producer about something important...what was it?
This is a fairly typical Monday morning for me. There are ideas zinging around my brain like popcorn exploding wildly at the end of the microwave cycle. It's hard for me to sit still and focus on any one idea--which is why I get so irritated when I hear that women are natural multitaskers. I used to wonder if something was wrong with me. Was I missing some XX gene?
Then, while doing research for my book, I came across the following quote from Senior Editor Christine Rosen of The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society in an article called “The Myth of Multitasking”: “Multitasking is now shorthand for the human attempt to do simultaneously as many things as possible, as quickly as possible, preferably marshalling the power of as many technologies as possible.”
That’s not healthy, I thought immediately; that’s crazy-making. What could be less natural? And what I’m learning from talking to moms around the country is that most women don’t feel competent when it comes to multitasking. Sure we do it all the time, but we don’t feel successful at it. (Okay, some women somewhere do; some men too.)
The way to complete any task--getting successfully from point A to point B—relies on focus. Throw in ringing cell phones, bleeping email alerts, a mountain of to-do’s, and kids asking us to sign their permissions slips which, by the way, got wet when the water bottle spilled and…well, who CAN get to point B? We should throw a parade for ourselves any time we accomplish any task!
So here’s what I say: we need to come up with systems and lists that work for staying organized to the best of our abilities, find ways to clear our busy brain throughout the day, and do the best we can. Let’s also realize that there is no truth to women being natural multitaskers and dispute it aloud when we hear it.
I am a journalist, filmmaker, author, wife, and mom to an 8-year-old daughter. My most recent project is I Love Mondays: And other confessions from devoted working moms. Other projects explore raising only children, happily ever after, raising strong girls, and hot topics for Jewish women.
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