Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Multitasking


One important skill on the resumes of all moms is the talent of multitasking.

We've all been there: change a baby's diaper while using one foot to knock away the garbage that your preschooler just dug out the trash can. Or answer a phone call with the most pleasant voice while giving the death stare to your child gesturing, Don't you dare! Or unload groceries, a sleeping child, and spilled Cheerios from the car while remembering to feed the turtle and put the load of wash into the dryer as you pass them. Except your now-awake child is going through the groceries and spilling more Cheerios on the kitchen floor. You wake up in the middle of the night remembering that you forgot to feed the turtle, and you wake up in the morning to find semi-wet "clean" clothes in the washer.

I find multitasking a burden borne of necessity. One does not do it because it's fun. One does it because too many things to get done. It is done out of desperation and survival.

Sure, it's fun to boast one's ability to multitask because moms rock. Sure, it's also fun to tease DH's multitasking ability because he cannot be on the phone and hear all the words coming out of my mouth. 

But you know what the truth is? I am really not very good at multitasking. Everything I do requires methodical planning and compulsive orderliness. (I know--I am my own detriment, and I see it in my poor DS everyday.)

I cannot have food cooking on the stove and still have things to prep on the cutting board; everything must be prepped before anything goes into the pan. Giada cooks and cuts at the same time, easily. The last time I aspired to be like Giada, food ended up on the floor.

I cannot do a whole lot while listening to music. My brain is wired so that the combination of music and reading or writing actually makes white noise. Sure, I listen to the radio in the car, but you know what I really hear when I'm driving to find a new place? White noise. Which might also be why I never know the lyrics to songs; they're usually just tunes and words like "ceiling can hold-ers."

I cannot hear my children talking at me while I'm reading. Again, white noise.

One thing I can do at the same time (woo-hoo!) is stir the liquid in that pot on the stove with my right hand and scroll through social media updates on my phone with my left thumb. Hold your applause, because too many things to get done. 

And it seems that the older I get, the more white noise I am hearing these days. Age is not very forgiving when it comes to demanding tasks such as taking notes from the violin teacher while playing Word Feud on my phone at the same time.

But now that Winter has passed and Spring has arrived (except the hiccup of an inch and a half of snow blanketing the ground this morning), I have had the energy and urge to get movin' again. When your forty-year-old body is inactive for a period of time, well, let's face it, it gets rusty. When your skin is so saggy because there's nothing underneath to support it, it's time to get shaped up!

Let me tell you about my requirements for working out: 1) It must take the least amount of time from getting ready to workout to working out. 2) It must have the luxury of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. 3) It must be safe so this old body has no chance of hurting itself. 4) It must allow me to do something else other than just the workout. <Gasp! Did I just demand to be able to multitask? Yes, I did!>

I have an elliptical machine in my room. It meets all the requirements. I roll out of bed and can begin working out within 5 minutes (minimal travel time). No one sees me with sheet wrinkles on my face and bedhead hair (no grooming required). There are handlebars to hold on to so I cannot fall off (safe for the knees and old folk). And I can watch TV or listen to music while running on it (multitasking haven). Whoopee!




Because I used to watch TV as an exercise companion, I'd DVR a season's worth of Grey's Anatomy and watch an episode each time I worked out. Except I'd end up sobbing uncontrollably halfway through the workout and forget about actually having to run. To know how well that worked out, let's just say that I haven't kept up with Grey's Anatomy for a couple of seasons.

So this time, I plugged in my earbuds and turned up the music. Picture me: running rhythmically to my upbeat music.

WITH MY EYES CLOSED.

Cuz I'm still sleepy. And I won't fall off. And I get to really enjoy my music and hear the lyrics.




And when I open my eyes again when the album's over, my goodness, I've run forty minutes and enjoyed tolerated every minute of it and it's over! And I didn't even have to cry or check to see how much longer?! Win-win!

This is absolutely Multitasking For The Win! Semi-conscious exercising while enjoying music and hearing all the words!

But don't let this post fool ya.

In the classroom, I know exactly which students are out in the restroom, drinking water, or at the nurse's office.

All while I'm passing out papers, herding a few stragglers to get started on their work, and teaching a lesson on how to be effective multitaskers.

Ba-bam!



5 comments:

  1. I always feel a little inferior when I here all the other moms talk about multitasking. I don't have it in me. That line up there about not hearing the children when you are reading?YES!
    Yet, like you, in order for me to exercise, I feel like something else must be accomplished in the process - like walking the dog, or riding my bike to the library.
    So what I'm trying to say is ME TOO to all of it.

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  2. Ha, this one gave me a good smile. I can do something things well while multitasking, but others not so much. (Totally agree with you about prepping all the ingredients before jumping into the mixing, stirring and cooking parts of the recipe!) I multitask by bringing Gavin in the jogging stroller on some of my runs - I accomplish spending time with him, giving Dan a break from daddying and/or fitting in a run when I'd otherwise have to stay at home - plus, sometimes Gavin even naps, so that's a bonus to bringing him with me!

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  3. Good job tuning out the workout while enjoying the music. It's the best when workouts seem shorter than they are. If I'm not outside, I NEED music or a TV to keep me occupied on inside equipment. It's just sooo monotonous. Over the years, I'm proud to say that I've gotten better at multi-tasking while cooking. It takes a lot of mental prep - which step first, what's next, etc. - but I'm quite proud. Not that I could narrate like Giada though ;). As for other multi-tasking, I see it as more of streamline-tasking. Like the line from the car to the inside of your house - what can I do along the way? That's how I organize and clean my house and schedule my precious few hours after the kids go to bed.

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  4. Thanks, Lisa! I can't believe how NOT looking at that output screen makes it go by so much faster! This is the only way I can truly enjoy music, so I'll keep at it. I agree with your mental prep re cooking, which I don't do enough of when it's everyday cooking. When I do bigger projects like birthday cakes/cupcakes, there's a lot more of it involved, and a lot less multitasking because CANNOT AFFORD A MISTAKE! You're so good about streamline-tasking... after my kids go to bed, I just want total ME time. :) Thanks for reading!

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  5. I'm not a multitasking wizard either. I add reminders into my cell phone calendar, jot notes on post-it squares and ask my husband to remind me of stuff (jokes on me- he has no memory :) ) I should get out and exercise... other than our work in the yard, I haven't done much (in my defense, shoveling rock, is hard work...) I'm glad you've found music to be a good companion for your workouts. You rock!

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