The Art of Multi-Tasking

Can ALL men multi-task?

Hands up if youโ€™re a bloke and can do at least three things at the same time and not lose your cool, get flustered, chip a nail or tell people around you to Shhh just because youโ€™re concentrating on the task(s) at hand. If you can do all this please accept a congratulatory handshake from me because Iโ€™d be totally amazed if youโ€™re a bloke and can actually multi-task without getting worked up. I know itโ€™s a typically stereotype but in the past few days itโ€™s all I seem to be encountering and Iโ€™m convinced that most men just canโ€™t multi task.

Before you get the machetes out, get your chupi twisted or scroll to the bottom to look for my email address to complain bitterly just know that Iโ€™m not dissing men folk! The thing is that I am guilty of multi-tasking and I have reason to believe itโ€™s not a good thing after all. I came across this on CNN. Take a look…


A new study suggests that people who often do multiple tasks in a variety of media — texting, instant messaging, online video watching, word processing, Web surfing, and more — do worse on tests in which they need to switch attention from one task to another than people who rarely multitask in this way.

Specifically, heavy multi-taskers are more easily distracted by irrelevant information than those who aren’t constantly in a multimedia frenzy, according to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One reason may be because the multi-taskers tend to retain the distracting information in their short-term memory, which affects their ability to focus, compared with people who don’t check their e-mail while talking on the phone and sneaking in some online shopping

So while Iโ€™m mighty pleased that I can do more than four or five things at the same time Iโ€™ve also just learnt that my output is pretty useless in terms of attention span and retention of important information. I donโ€™t know if this comes as a curse or a boon but I somehow managed to smash my BlackBerry and I was nought pleased about it. The Pill of Clumsy that I swallowed a fortnight ago seems to have major side effects and then some. Iโ€™m still all over the place with my thought process and actions and now I feel I actually have a reason, a valid one at that, to blame all thatโ€™s been going on.

Of course this piece of information is not about to stop me from something that seems to be a lifetime habit. No, itโ€™s not the clumsiness. I meant the multi-tasking actually. I may behave myself for a fortnight at the most but I know very well that withdrawal symptoms will set in and Iโ€™ll start itching to do more than just one thing at a time.

But between you, me and the four walls I must admit that itโ€™s a bit like Jack of all trades, master of none. You may be multi tasking but are you really achieving optimal results at the end? I sometimes feel that Iโ€™m not giving it my all thatโ€™s why Iโ€™m not pleased with the end result and vow to concentrate on the task at hand but I have a rather bad habit of craving the continuum of what I deem as the norm. I feel something vital is missing if Iโ€™m not doing several things at a time.

Itโ€™s the same when I get to the East FM studio every day. Typically I will plonk down my bag, log onto the network, check my emails, re-check the playlist, read the text messages that start pouring in, take phone calls on air, catch up with song requests on Facebook, reply back to emails and sneak a peek at my BlackBerry every once in a while when I think the Programme Controller isnโ€™t looking. (I think I just dug my grave with this confession… watch this space!)

So perhaps I will set myself a new goal for the New Year to try and change my multi tasking habits and perhaps concentrate more on the task at hand, one at a time.

***FYI this column was typed out while I was chatting on MSN, checking Facebook, listening to music on the iPod, mentally pondering over what to wear to work and sorting next weekโ€™s dinner menus mentally. My editor will let me know if itโ€™s worthy of going to print or not!!


She’s multi-tasking AND she’s smiling!

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