Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posted by terrepruitt on September 1, 2009

Multitasking.  So revered we have invented a word for it.  Thought so highly of it is a buzz word included on resumes.  Employers look for it.  They want someone who can do multiple tasks at once.  Sounds fabulous.

But at what cost?  What is each task not getting so that the other can receive?  How can someone possibly do more than one or two things at once?  I mean, when you think about it, our bodies are already DOING a lot of tasks, then we expect our brain to do MORE.  No, our brain does not need us to stop and think about breathing and blinking, but when you add a task to that, it is DOING more than one thing already.  So if you try to do five, it is going to be doing a lot.

Our society praises and rewards “multitasking”, but it has come to light in studies that whatever tasks are being done while other tasks are being done, the tasks suffer.  We — in America at least —- don’t concentrate on much of anything.  Stop for a second and watch.  Do you see one person in your line of sight doing one thing?  Is there someone walking while on the phone, driving while drinking, eating while talking, riding a bike while listening to a device?

I am not sitting here typing this because I am the master of living in the moment and concentrating on one thing I am doing, I have a task I do every single day—more than once a day—that I am guilty of doing while doing other things, so I am not sitting here saying it is all YOU that are guilty of this, I am just pointing out something that you have heard of lately as being not as great as we were originally led to believe.  My teeth and gums can prove it to you.  I never JUST brush my teeth.  I am usually picking out my clothes, or finding my earrings, or finding my shoes, while I am brushing my teeth so then I have to stop and say, “Did I brush my inner lowers?”  And I brush them again.

I could go on and on about this.  There are texting while driving issues, there are talking on the phone while driving issues, there are cooking while on the phone issues.  So maybe I am just saying to stop.  Just once during your day in the next few days, stop and do one thing.  Oh my!  How much will it cost you?  Five minutes?  Or less?  I know that if I stopped and concentrated on brushing my teeth and didn’t brush the same spot five times because I wasn’t paying attention it would probably cost me less.  What about you?  What has “multitasking” cost you?  How much did you really save?  Could we all benefit from doing one less thing at a time?

13 Responses to “Multitasking”

  1. I’m glad you live the moment and I’m glad you make me stop and smell roses.


  2. Michele said

    Great idea, I always try to drink my coffee while I catch up on a few blogs in the morning, it has probably cost me more than a few cold cups of coffee! I have also realized the down side of multitasking since staying at home full time with my little kids – they really demand my full attention alot of the time, and while resentful some of the time, I have realized that I am cheating us all out of important moments if I am answering my e-mail while playing a game of candyland, because after all how long will it be until they realize candyland is for babies – and they aren’t anymore?!?!?!? So I will end this comment with a new resolve to multitask less and enjoy one moment at a time more! Thanks Terre 🙂


    • Well, drinking a cup of coffee while reading seems to go hand in hand, but I guess it is when the typing starts that the coffee gets cold, huh? Thankfully we have microwaves.

      But, you gave a perfect example with the kids. Because that is exactly when you need to multitask in order to get anything done, but at the same time . . . . it is probably not what is best. We are continually challenged. I humbly thank you for taking time to read and comment. I know you are busy so I really appreciate it.

      And . . . .while Candyland might have originally been designed for babies it is very enticing for all ages. I mean LOOK at all that candy. Who wouldn’t want to play, right?

      Multitasking less, could be just ONE thing, right? I mean, honestly it would be impossible not to do some multitasking, but . . . . maybe one thing we could just do. I think I should start with brushing my teeth.


  3. Wow. We are a culture of instantaneous gratification. I must drink my coffee and read the newspaper, read the blogs, read Facebook. Yes my coffee gets cold, too (I loved Michele mentioning it. I’ve noticed my cold coffee all too often). I don’t have a microwave. We threw ours out several years ago. Even warming up a cup of coffee changes the cellular structure of the coffee. Why would I want to do that when I it was my choice to do something else rather than just enjoy a cup of hot coffee??

    I’m a multitasker. My husband is a multitasker. My coworkers are multitaskers. And we’re all just so busy doing all of these different things that we often forget to just stop and smile at one another or REALLY listen to what someone is saying to us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at work doing 2 or 3 things at the same time while one of my co-workers is recanting the goings-on of her weekend. I nod my head and laugh where it’s appropriate but I’m not really paying attention. That’s sad.

    So do I want to become a “conscious” multitasker? Would that make a difference? Perhaps not. It’s my belief that being conscious is being mindful. If I’m being mindful then I need to slow down and really embrace the present moment. Stop and the smell the moment.

    Thank you Terre. This is a brilliant and beautiful blog. It has brought an increased awareness of how I wish to live my life.


    • Wow, Jill, you are “hard-core”—ditching your microwave. There are so many things in our modern day society that are not good for us and some I will try to avoid, but — eeek! — I think my microwave won’t be one of them. Sometimes—even though it is my choice to do something else other than drink my coffee it cannot be avoided. I don’t have children, but for me one thing I drop everything for is cat throw up. When I choose to clean that up before it soaks into my carpet —- dang if my coffee doesn’t understand that priority and goes and gets cold on my anyway. Microwave to the rescue! A little zap and its good to go. But, I am sure it isn’t all that good for me, I mean, they don’t call it “nuking” for nothing, right?

      Yes, the “not-really-listening” is the one of the saddest parts of our multitasking society—-especially since we are encouraged, even TRAINED to do so.

      There are a few things I wish I could do, but I think they would make my life “too difficult” so I don’t believe they can be done yet I can TRY to be better about them. I will not succeed in doing them completely, but I think that even doing them part way is better than nothing. And two of those things are not eating packaged food and doing LESS multitasking.

      I am not going to start making my own bread and pasta, but I won’t eat frozen dinners or prepared entrees. I probably won’t stop picking out clothing or earrings while brushing my teeth, but while listening to someone in person I will make it a point not do something else. I think sometimes doing a little is better than not doing anything at all.

      Gotta go, my coffee is getting cold.

      HUGS to you. Thank you for your wonderful insights!


  4. judy said

    I actually just read a study that proved you are absolutely right, smarty pants! Even teenagers who seem to do this so well don’t. Great post! Thank you for the reminder. You know I need it. 😉


    • Yeah, I haven’t actually read any of the studies, but I have been hearing a lot about it and I have skimmed some articles. And it makes sense. To me anyway. I am glad to hear that teenagers do do any better.

      Thank you for stopping by!


  5. lisakunk said

    Ok, ok, I hear you this time. But I’m keeping my microwave. I totally agree that it is a huge mistake to use a child’s play time as multi-tasking time. Missing life’s moments for e-mail and texting is a mistake. At least to me. It’s like driving through beautiful country you’ve never seen and failing to look up and enjoy it. I’ll try to do better.
    Also, my twenty-one year old daughter is about to leave college after three years and a couple of major changes. She wants desperately to become a life coach, fitness leader and yoga teacher. I’m wondering where you got your training and if you can tell me anything about your situation. We live in Charlotte, NC and she’s looking at intensive programs where she would live and eat at the training location. There are some beautiful locations out there to do this. And life’s too short to be a miserable nurse or interior designer. (Those were her two majors) She’s also an art major so hopefully she can complete that part eventually. Any advise you have would be wonderful. If you’d prefer to email me it’s lisakunk@msn.com Thanks. Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

    • Microwave? Ok. Keep it. Good decision. 🙂

      I don’t think that it is a huge mistake to use a child’s play time as a multi-tasking time. I mean, if the child is playing on her own that is the BEST time to go get something done. Let her use her imagination and play . . . as long as it is in a safe area and all that stuff.

      We do miss a lot of moments because of texting and e-mailing, I think.

      Regarding yoga training . . . . there is so much out there. I got mine at a local studio. There are so many kinds of yoga training. If she is planning on going and doing and intensive that is awesome.

      It is my opinion that when someone is taking a training in order to teach they first need to think about WHERE they might want to teach so that they can be sure to get the training that they will need in order to teach there. Make sense? Different places of employment require different things. So if your daughter has an idea as to where she might be teaching she could look at what they require.

      There are a lot of beautiful locations to go to take yoga training, to do yoga, and to teach it.

      Liked by 1 person

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