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The real secret to success? Multitasking

Categories: Making Time, Working? Living?

23 comments

My pants were too long.

They got caught on the heel of my shoe at work, tripped me up on the stairs, and made me look like I was playing dress-up in some tall person’s clothes. I needed to hem them, but couldn’t find the time.

So I finally made the time. I hemmed them at work. At my desk. While I was wearing them.

Luckily, the pair I was wearing when inspiration/exasperation struck was pinstriped, and it’s fairly easy to keep the hem level if you make sure the stripes line up. And, since I was wearing them while I worked on them, I didn’t sew the cuffs together — this time. (Yeah, I don’t have so much of the mad sewing skilz.)

The results were fine. I was happy. So happy, in fact, that two days later I deliberately wore another pair of too-long pants and did it again.

All moms know the real secret to success is multitasking. Hard work and determination, too, of course, but multitasking — that’s the stuff, right there.

We all multitask, almost all the time, almost without thinking about it. Checking personal e-mail while at the office? Yup. Talking on the phone while cooking dinner? Uh-huh. It’s not the smartest thing to do, but I’ll admit that I schedule pediatrician appointments, return phone calls, and catch up with friends while I’m driving to and from work. If I’m watching TV — I’m addicted to “The Office,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” and anything featuring Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or Gordon Ramsay — I’m probably folding clothes at the same time.

Of course, it’s possible to take things too far. I’m marginally ambidextrous, and once I tried to write two different holiday cards at the same time, one with each hand. I’ve tried to cook several different dishes at once, only to forget about one (or more) until the smoke alarm went off. I’ve come to understand that trying to do anything else while inserting a contact lense is not a good idea. And I was thisclose to rigging up a floor-cleaning system with a few cloth diapers and my crawling baby when he up and started walking…

Kidding!

Kind of…

How do you multitask?



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23 comments so far...

  • I multitask so often that I don’t even know when I’m doing it. I used to say that there should be a mom’s Olympics and you would have to cook dinner, change a diaper and put together a puzzle with your preschooler ALL at the same time.

    I would LOVE to have seen you write two cards at the same time!

    Leandra  |  November 19th, 2007 at 10:11 am

  • The two card thing didn’t work out very well! But it did provide an “Ah Ha” moment, as in “Ah ha, I think I’ve finally gone off the deep end, here…”

    If, at the Mom Olypmics, they award nap time or spa days instead of medals, count me in!

    Lylah  |  November 19th, 2007 at 11:22 am

  • ha! yes multitasking is a MUST in order to remain sane, but at the same time you have to know the limits!! Like applying make up and driving is a no-no unless stopped at a redlight and paying attention so you stop whatever you are doing when the light turns green so no one honks at you.

    i often do computer work in the evenings while watching my favorite shows! the office is also one of my favs!!! love that show :)

    also ‘doing’ laundry is an easy multi-task since it is a start and go type deal. today (i am home) i was ‘doing’ laundry, the dishwasher, and cleaning the stove/kitchen all at the same time! woohoo! hahahaaaa

    Kate  |  November 19th, 2007 at 1:57 pm

  • Hi, Kate! It seems like I’m always doing laundry, since it does itself while I do other things. Now, if only I could get it to fold itself and put itself away, I’d be all set!

    Lylah  |  November 19th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

  • I agree that laundry is probably one of the easiest things to multitask, unless you have to take it to a laundromat or something - but then you can bring a book to read, and get some welcome downtime! :-)

    I’m impressed with your ability to hem pants while wearing them, Lylah - talk about seizing an opportunity!

    When you look at multitasking from this perspective, I think many of us probably do more of it than we realize…oh, yeah, because we HAVE TO.

    Florinda  |  November 19th, 2007 at 2:16 pm

  • I finally came to the realization, dreadfully, that i can’t multitask like I used to. I end up with too many incompletes or things don’t get the attention they should. I still do it to a lessor degree (like laundry while watching TV) but I can no longer multi task on a grand scale. This was a really hard thing for me to acknowledge since I’ve always prided myself on that. I guess knowing my limitations is one way I’m growing as a working mom. Oh, but if it meant winning the Mom Olympics I could train and get right back on my game!

    Mandy  |  November 19th, 2007 at 2:19 pm

  • Florinda, I had never hemmed pants while wearing them before! And I don’t think I’ll be trying it with non-pinstripped pants (I’d probably end up with one leg looking like capris and the other sewn onto my sock).

    Mandy, good point about knowing one’s limitations (and accepting certain things in order to grow)! I think, also, that there’s so much more to juggle once there are little kids around, sometimes it feels like we can’t get on top of it the way we used to. I find that the things I’m multitasking are different now that I’m a working parent. How about you?

    Lylah  |  November 19th, 2007 at 2:34 pm

  • Everything is absolutely different. Before, I didn’t have to worry about getting to the pedi or monitoring some else’s bowel movements (JOY!) or even making sure the doll house was dusted on the inside b/c it was never turned around and played with. Now there are all the little things that go with the little ones. And when work changes or grows, or even slows I imagine, you have to be able to go with it and handle it all the swam way. I’ve thought about it, though…a nanny won’t help me get everything done, nor would having a housekeeper (why pay someone when I know I’ll do it better) or a personal assistant. There are times I want each of these so that I can better concentrate on each item before me but that’s not the answer. Quick, someone tell me the answer!

    Mandy  |  November 19th, 2007 at 2:44 pm

  • Cloning?

    :)

    Lylah  |  November 19th, 2007 at 2:48 pm

  • ha! wouldn’t hubby love that!!

    Mandy  |  November 19th, 2007 at 3:07 pm

  • I have actually pumped one boob, fed my son from the other, worked on my laptop while on a conference call on my cell with the TV on SIMULTANEOUSLY. But, the TV WAS on mute.

    Mom At Work  |  November 19th, 2007 at 4:20 pm

  • I think we have found our winner of the Mom Multitasking Olympics! You go, Mom At Work!!!

    Lylah  |  November 19th, 2007 at 4:45 pm

  • does almost peeing myself while reading Mom At Work’s post count?!!?

    Mandy  |  November 19th, 2007 at 5:20 pm

  • MomatWork - seriously, I just spit out the water I took a sip of:) Thank you for that. We might have to start an award here on WIM for multitasking queen - you definitely hold the record for now!

    Nataly  |  November 19th, 2007 at 6:45 pm

  • Yeah, I’d say so… though I think we’ll have a lot of contestants in that category! :)

    Lylah  |  November 19th, 2007 at 9:27 pm

  • Your two-handed cardi-writing experiment reminds me of something I heard years ago. Apparently Woodrow Wilson (Wilson? I think it was him) could write with both hands, simultaneously. Moreover, he could write in Greek with one hand while writing Latin with the other.

    I’m not sure precisely how that could be useful, but it’s certainly impressive!!

    MaryP  |  November 20th, 2007 at 6:50 pm

  • MaryP, that’s exactly what made me try it! I don’t remmeber if it was Wilson, but I do remember some old news feature showing a guy standing at a black board and writing two completely different things at the same time, one with each hand…

    Lylah  |  November 20th, 2007 at 10:10 pm

  • What do I win? If it’s not a clone, i don’t think I have time to collect the prize. :)

    Mom At Work  |  November 21st, 2007 at 9:55 am

  • How about the undying appreciation and admiration of your friends at Work It Mom? :) Until they figure out the whole cloning thing, at least?

    Lylah  |  November 21st, 2007 at 4:16 pm

  • I’ve already got my order in for a clone…
    ;)

    Annemarie  |  November 22nd, 2007 at 5:24 pm

  • Laundry and correcting papers/scoring tests makes the perfect mutlitasking combination for me. The clothes need to be moved just at the time I need stretch break. If I’m really feeling accomplished, I can bake bread or muffins while the clothes are swishing and my correcting pen is checking. That’s probably my limit.

    Daisy  |  November 23rd, 2007 at 9:49 am

  • This is so true! I’m always juggling, while my husband sits down and focuses on one task at a time. I’m usually doing laundry and sweeping up while I work, so it’s a start-stop-start-stop pattern that lasts pretty much all day!

    Diane  |  November 23rd, 2007 at 5:51 pm

  • Oh my goodness, Diane, I so totally relate to what you said in your comment! Is it just a key difference between men and women, you think? Or something more?

    Daisy, I think that’s a pretty good level of multitasking right there!

    Annemarie, I’ve put in my order for a clone, too… still waiting, though! ;)

    Lylah  |  November 23rd, 2007 at 10:20 pm

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