Friday, June 1, 2012

The Great Juggling Act

My friend Linda mentioned that she can't juggle more than a few things at once without feeling frantic, which got me thinking.

I can juggle several things at once. I used to pride myself on my abilities to multitask. But I looked at my daily practices, really looked at them, and now I wonder if we as a society should attempt to juggle a bajillion things at once.

Granted, in some cases it's necessary. I know that for a fact trying to juggle a baby with cooking and housework, and oh yeah, dinner, and let's not forget Elizabeth needs to write at least a few times a week if not every day to maintain basic sanity.

But when did we start feeling like not only we had to do it all, but all at once?

In some cases multitasking is a boon. Last night I loaded the dishwasher, cooked dinner, and cleaned out the fridge at the same time. With the time saved, I finished watching season four of Heroes with my husband (more on that train wreck later). 

In other cases, multitasking actually hurts. Imagine trying to write a novel at the same time as reading one. Or walking in the park. I'm not saying that people aren't capable of it (although walking and writing at the same time strikes me as hazardous to your health). But why would you want to? Shouldn't some tasks be awarded your complete attention? I don't know about you, but I want to get lost in a book. When writing, I want to be completely in the zone. When walking, I want to pay attention to the birds and the trees and the breeze on my face.

Some things deserve no less than your complete attention.

What about you? Do you prefer to try and get it all done at once, or one thing at a time?




  1. Oh, this is so true! I'm trying to simplify my life to improve the quality of what I'm doing. It's great to multitask, but if you never slow down and really enjoy ONE moment, you will eventually burn out.

    Even if the tasks are all good or necessary.

  2. I think we need to distinguish between types of tasks. Mindless thinks like unloading the dishwasher, we can also have a conversation, or think about the next thing, or whatever. Something like writing - that requires dedicated focus. Otherwise, we just waste time getting back into that place we were when we stopped to pick up the phone or fold the laundry, etc.

    But I do think you should probably not juggle the baby. Stick to balls or scarves. ;-)

  3. Charity: Yes, exactly! Quality over quantity!

    Linda: that's a great point, too. Each task should be considered in the grand scheme of importance.