This morning I woke up, opened my eyes, and a thought occurred to me – I SUCK at multi-tasking.
You wouldn’t think this would be such an epiphany but it was. Because I spend my days trying to do many things at once and when I don’t fail miserably I think “Hey, yeah, I got this multi-tasking thing down. Productivity Superstar!” But that’s not the case at all.
So there I was this morning, thinking about last night – how I should have started my thesis but didn’t – and looking at my alarm clock – and how I said I was going to get up to go to the gym and didn’t – and deciding whether I should snooze my alarm even though I was awake – I did – that it really sunk in. I’ve always known I was a commit everything, all or nothing kind of person, I just didn’t realize it extended to the mundane task of tasks.
On Saturday I finished writing my novel (yeah, go me!) and I was hoping this would pave the way for me to focus on my final project for grad school (which I now only have about 6 weeks to complete – eek!) On some level I knew that I couldn’t hold room in my head for both of them. But then I got another idea for a book and the project gets pushed farther and farther away every time I think of them. Curses!
But this happens around my house too – yes I need to clean but I don’t have enough time to do the whole thing so why even start. Yes I should pay those bills but I haven’t organized the office yet so I don’t know where my mail is supposed to go so why bother. What, my car needs to be washed – don’t even get me STARTED on how much my care needs to be washed – but the car wash I have the gift certificate for is in another city and I should really be taking the time to clean my house . . . See, the excuses and being pulled 20 different ways is endless.
How did I THINK I was good at multi-tasking for so long? Simple – I’m organized. Not like OCD, I can tell you how many paper clips are in the cup organized but your basic bland organized. Except with pretty colored pens and bright file folders – I like to color code. And I make lists – lots of lists – that help remind me what I have to do. When I don’t have the lists I rely on my memory which is not a good way to remember EVERYTHING so I list. I list and I feel better. And then I stare at the list and get overwhelmed. There seems to be a pattern here.
But now that I’ve recognized it, let’s see if I can beat it. Today at work I will make a list of everything I want to get done and when I’m working on something, I’m working on it. No changes mid-shift, no stopping to get three other things done, just concentrate on the task at hand and then move on. Hopefully it works because, seriously, my car really is dirty, my house needs to be cleaned and that Thesis of 120 hours of work? It ain’t gonna research itself.