The Queen of Multi-Tasking
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree and Rising.
I seem to be either concentrating on ONE thing, so focused that I could forget anything else going on for a little while or…. Well, okay, that’s actually rare. It’s usually something creative or someone or some subject I feel intensely about but it’s still very rare that I’m focused on just one thing, especially for a long period of time.
The more likely thing is for me to be focused on several things at once. And doing all of them and doing them well. I used to refer to this in my day job as “juggling.” I could handle 15 hot projects at once by prioritizing and judging the workload and the time to do each project and where each was in the process stages. I was so good at this that my first year on the job, I awarded 12 contracts including some real doozies while the senior level person sitting next to me and earning 4 times my salary awarded one tiny grant in the whole year. For the first two years of my job, I had the highest output in any office I worked in. That trend continued until by the late 90’s, my bosses all recognized that my output was generally triple the office average, year after year after year. There were others who were just as ambitious or creative as I was, but juggling was my action verb in those days.
Sometimes too many projects has left me scattered or fragmented when I reached the point of just too much, too much, and I started dropping the eggs I was juggling because I felt I had to take on every great project that came my way.
I usually have to focus on doing just 3 things so I don’t take on too much. Sometimes I’m successful. But no matter what, I seem to always be multi-tasking. I can’t do just one thing.
I can’t watch a DVD without being on the treadmill, too. I can’t be gardening without listening to podcasts about Charlemagne, marketing, and Feng Shui. I can’t take a cross-the-state drive without dictating several chapters of a novel to be transcribed later.
Tonight, I baked a yummy lasagna and made a scrumptious strawberry angel food dessert while cleaning out cabinets, washing dishes, doing laundry, listening to archeology podcasts, and replacing the nozzle on the sink.
The hard thing is that people who don’t understand that all these things get my attention and that none goes lacking think I’m not paying attention to them. There are times when people get my complete attention but it’s not my sole focus. It’s more like all my antennae tune into one person at one time at one moment. And that’s a great feeling, but it’s not going to last 24 hours a day because that’s not the way I’m wired.
People who want my complete attention 24 hours a day don’t usually keep my attention for more than 24 hours.