Chasing 12 rabbits (aka multitasking)



I’ve had a very interesting experience the last few days. In order to understand it I had to go back a week or so when my grandfather passed away. It wasn’t completely unexpected, though I don’t think you can be fully prepared. Anyway, I spent the week helping my mother deal with funeral arrangements, problem solving who would be where and when, and trying to be sure she had enough food in the house to deal with the people who would be coming over.

As the owner of a company I had to also figure out what projects could be dealt with and which had to be postponed. Looking back it seems like everything got handled very well. I don’t think any clients were inconvenienced.

Now I’m back at work. All week I’ve been trying to catch up and get ahead of the holiday.  As any business person knows, you have to catch people when you can and plan on having a few days when you can’t catch anyone as you get close to the holiday season.  (In my book those are great days to get some work done that there never seems to be time to do.)  However, I’ve found something I had a hard time putting my finger on until my sister said “you are trying to chase 12 rabbits”.  How true. 

My multitasking wasn’t working (that sounds like a computer part that should go back to the shop).  It seemed like I was doing everything and getting nothing done.  So I asked myself, what happened – I used to be able to do 12 things in series and get them all done.  If the phone rang and I had to switch tasks I could, then I would switch back as needed.  Lately, that isn’t happening. I’ve been bouncing off the walls (not literally).  Interestingly enough, all the work that needs to get done is getting done – it is just taking a whole lot longer.

My conclusion: I’m tired.  I know this and now I’m adapting by turning off all the random bells, whistles and beeps that would normally distract me. 

However, it makes me ask: what about all those people who are living in a perpetual state of stress and pain (aka. all the people I work with on a daily basis).  They don’t know that their “multitasker” is broken – and it probably has been for quite some time.  Employers, do you really think that your employees are working at 100%?  I can tell you that they are not.

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