Are My Multi-Tasking Days Over?

We know, don’t we, that when we stand in the kitchen doing the washing up whilst putting the laundry on, peeling a carrot, sauteing an onion and laying the dinner table that we are not really going any faster just because we are doing five jobs at once, and yet we cannot help ourselves. Who can say, hand on heart, she’s never found herself doing that? It feels efficient. But really it’s just panic born of busyness and time poverty.

And the same applies to business. I’ve taught anyone who has paid to listen – and some who haven’t (!) – that it isn’t faster to work on three projects simultaneously and it’s impossible to launch them all at once. We have to pick one, focus on it, launch it, get it up and running successfully and taking money before we move onto the next.

And yet, do we entrepreneurs do that? Er, no.

The way in which I am most likely to multi-task is by being apparently unable these days to do one thing at once. I watch TV programmes on my computer because I don’t have a TV set and I do emails at the same time and often a sudoku too because the telly simply isn’t engaging enough. And that’s just in my leisure time.

During the working day I might be blogging, doing emails, checking Facebook and then someone will Skype and I’ll interrupt all the other tasks to speak to them. And if I am honest, I like it like this. It feels efficient (there you go again), it’s exciting and I feel like I am getting a lot done. And in some ways I am. And I can always switch everything off if I want to get a serious piece of work done for a client to a deadline. And I choose that often. It’s calming by comparison.

But now my computer’s had enough of it, or The Big U, or both of them conspiring together.

My laptop’s on the sick list and I need it too much right now to send it up to the menders and miss two working days. In my heart of hearts I know this is a false economy, I’d be better off biting the bullet and losing the two days. But that isn’t possible; I have deadlines. While I have been managing on my iPad to do so much, there are some things you can only do on your laptop where your “proper” programs are – Word, Excel and Sage.

And the tasks I do on my iPad mean I can only do one thing at once and due to the lack of keyboard and mouse they are typically at half the speed. I know this for a fact because when I do my morning pages on 750words.com I often log typing speeds of 70 wpm. On the iPad it’s nearer 35. So, half the speed then and only one thing at once.

This means slowing right down. And whilst I know that’s good for me, I don’t like it very much. Yet. It feels like being busted back to sometime in the past, a very long time ago, school say. Certainly pre-computers. The dark ages.

I’ve had to ask my most prolific email correspondents to back off for a bit. Can’t cope, Loves. Gotta leave you to crack on without me for a while. Who knows? It’ll probably be great for all of us, refreshing for sure.

Single tasking. Can you imagine? Here’s how it works.

  • Open up Outlook. Do emails. Close down.
  • Open up Skype. Talk to people. Close down.
  • Open up Google. Check Facebook. Surf the web. Close down.
  • Open up WordPress. Blog. Close down.
  • Move seamlessly from one to the other? Dream on.

It’s downright weird and unnatural, that’s what it is. It feels like something that’s officially good for me, like taking medicine in the Julie Andrews’ sense. But where’s my spoonful of sugar? Where’s my payoff? I think there’ll be one, must be one. I just don’t know what it is yet, Rolf.

I may be obliged to work in a completely different way. In chunks. I am the sort of person who likes that. Ish. I am neat in that I close down windows when I have finished that task. I was working with a colleague this morning and when she shared her screen with me, I felt quite stressed by all the windows she had open. I nearly had to ask her to close them so I could function, so I could breathe.

It’s zen, that’s what I like about it most. When I am listening to Deepak Chopra’s voice on his 21-day Abundance Meditation, I’m thinking “I bet Deepak doesn’t have all his windows open at once, multi-tasking. I bet he’s a single-tasking type of a chap and whatever Deepak’s on, I want some of that.” Stress is not Deepak’s middle name.

So, there will be an interruption to normal service, Chaps. That’s all there is to it. You won’t see me lingering around with loads of programs open available to all comers all the time and simultaneously. We will have to have an orderly queue round here. Things are gonna change. They will have to, I have no choice in the matter until a new laptop arrives and by then I might decide I prefer it like this. You will be hearing from me in chunks and to a schedule. Going to be weird.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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