My Latest Nemesis

The busy multi-tasker. I ask you, when will folks realize that multi-tasking only lets you do a lot of things very badly.

Women Are Much Better Multi-Taskers Than Men

Neither men, nor women can do multiple tasks very well. Take the suburban driver who thinks she can look for toll money, check the grocery list and listen to her 3 year old son in the back seat, all while trying to negotiate a left-hand turn at the four-way stop sign at the local supermarket parking lot.

She can’t possibly have enough hands to use a turn signal, so the driver across from her assumes she’s going straight and can’t make a left turn until she’s through the intersection. She hasn’t enough attention to monitor her pace, so her turn comes at a glacial speed (and that’s glacial prior to global warming), making the other drivers wait all that much longer for her. Using only one hand to turn the steering wheel, while the other searches for purse change, she has to cut off the corner of the turn, making any vehicles coming from her left hand side screech to a halt, or swerve to avoid being hit by her.

All this, so she can have a half-hearted conversation with her son that will have no impact whatso-fucking-ever, read through a list of grocery items that she won’t recall, and will have to re-read whilst she navigates a shopping cart, and getting her fingernails filled with purse lint, because her husband has already snagged every coin from her purse to pay for his drive-through coffee at Starbucks the prior weekend.

Please people…realize that multi-tasking is a myth…there is nothing better than focusing on a task at hand until it’s done, and done well. And the way most of you drive, you should clearly give driving your highest priority anyway.

Current Knitting
For lack of any new ideas that excite me, I’ve continued to work on the kid alpaca bed spread.

Bedspread 06-06-07

Talk about moving at a glacial pace. But it does continue to grow…it just doesn’t make for very interesting blog material.

New Magazine
I picked up the latest issue of Spin-Off at the grocery store today, and as usual, I read it from cover to cover.

SpinOff 06-07

There are some interesting articles, that I found very enjoyable to read. I only casually glanced through the article on creating self-striping yarns (the cover story), and it requires a much more detailed read to understand the concept.

Current Spinning
Speaking of spinning, I started working on the Corriedale roving. This is the fiber from the Corriedale fleece I bought at Rhinebeck last year, and had processed by Fingerlakes Woolen Mill.

Corriedale 06-06-07

I’m purposefully spinning this very loosely and very unevenly with a lot of thick and thin spots. I’m hoping to end up with an interesting two-ply yarn, although I have no idea what I’ll do with all the resulting yarn.

Readers’ Comments/Questions
Sandra asks, “Were you able to bring your needles on the plane out of Zurich?”

I flew from Philadelphia to Frankfurt and then to Zurich. Then from Zurich to Munich and back to Philadelphia. The entire time, including in the waiting areas at the various airports, I knit, and no one mentioned anything about it.

0 comments on “My Latest Nemesis

  1. In yet another genius move by the folks I work for, multitasking is being written into all job descriptions for our department as a necessary “skill.”

    Since I have nothing to lose at this point, I suggested they would do better to try to hire people who can concentrate on doing even one thing right.

    Blank stares.

    You’re a dinosaur, Joe. And so am I. The ability to do one thing right is no longer valued – it’s so much better to do five things badly.

  2. Well, just to play devil’s advocate, I would say that multitasking is valuable in some settings – like my job. One of the reasons my staff like working with me is that I can keep track of several cases in progress, prioritize the work flow, and move the caseload along so that we don’t generally have cranky people waiting for 3+ hours. The same can’t be said of all my colleagues.

    Of course, when I’m driving, I pretty much stick to just that.

  3. I think it depends on what you mean by multitasking. I think the ability to coordinate multiple jobs going at the same time is very important. However, I agree with Joe in that some jobs or tasks require one’s full attention — and that this is more a question of people trying to do too much at once than managing work flow or simultaneous issues.

    I have to say that my husband is much worse at trying to coordinate multiple jobs than I am. I couldn’t get anything done if I weren’t simultaneously doing things — i.e. processing laundry while watching my kids — but the trick is to know which things can coincide w/o either of them suffering. Driving and cell phone gabbing (which I see a lot of male businesspersons do, BTW) is a bad combination and makes you inattentive to both the road and the other person on the line.

  4. Hello. I’m delurking because one thing stuck out at me from your post. Your grocery store has copies of Spin Off? Grocery store? Really? I can’t find copies of Spin Off in bookstores and most yarn stores, much less the grocery store. I’m completely jealous. I hate the fact that if I want to read the magazine I have to subscribe or drive to a yarn store well out of my way.

    And since I’m delurking, I just want to say that I really do appreciate your blog. Thanks so much for the work and thought you put into your posts.

  5. I realize that there is a lot of multitasking which is inappropriate, and all of your examples fall into that category. However, speaking as someone who reads and knits simultaneously all the time, I find this post’s presence on a knitting blog kind of amusing.

  6. I am NOT a born multi-tasker. It makes me very angry when I feel like others try to push me into it. Usually the “others” are my kids, who don’t seem to understand that they can’t have my attention at certain crucial moments. Like driving in traffic! Or re-counting a very long cast on, to double-check, before I start Row 1. (The first thing I ever noticed the first time I read The Knitting Curmudgeon was the line, “Shut up; I’m counting.” It hooked me!)

    It does disturb me that modern society seems to value multi-tasking so highly. We’d all be better off if we were more focused on the one thing we’re doing at this moment.

  7. Multi-tasking and detail-oriented do not go hand-in-hand. These are the buzz words of our society today.

    I multi-task like Mel does, keeping shit straight in my head. But when I write, I’m completely focused on that one task.

    It’s been my experience that employers who want you to multi-task also have no comprehension as to what it takes to do something thoroughly and correctly. And they inevitably want it “ASAP.”

    I say to them: “If you want it in the worst way, that’s probably how you’ll get it.”

  8. Multi-task ..me ? I can hardly make tea in the morning and toat a bagel at the same time. It’s agood job I don’t drive . I can knit while I am knitting though .

  9. This reminds me of a stand-up routine I saw Ellen Degeneres do in reference to people driving while on their cell phones – if you’re doing something (driving) that requires both feet, both hands, both eyes, both ears….don’t you think your brain should be involved, too? πŸ™‚

  10. There is a difference between multitasking and doing too many things at once. Too many people get that confused. Driving is enough of a multitasking skill without adding extra things in there. I have a hard enough time singing to the radio and driving (and it has nothing to do with me being a blonde. Too many people try to do too many things at once and end up doing nothing right. Preparation is a lost skill.

    Of course, I dont’ own a cell phone because I believe that unless it’s an emergency people don’t need to call me all the time. You can leave a message on my machine and I’ll call you back when I have the time to focus on you, not when I’m driving something that could very easily kill other people.

  11. If she weren’t driving an SUV, you can bet she wouldn’t be such a cavalier driver, because someone would run her little sedan off the road. And the crazy drivers are just where you live … I always let the native son drive in PA.

    Auto conversations with my 3yo are usually along the lines of me repeating “Mommy can’t talk /look at you / pick up your toy, Mommy is DRIVING. Now listen to the nice loud music until we get to the store.”

  12. Honestly, if I don’t multi-task, I don’t get anything done. Give me 3 things that need to be done on the same time line, and I’m in heaven. I even knit my unst wedding shawl while chatting away at knitting meetings and watching TV. I can’t just sit and concentrate on my knitting.

    Now, driving is a different story. I do need to concentrate on just driving – you put a passenger in my car, and I go from a fairly OK driver to being a danger to myself and others.

  13. I think people take multi tasking to places it doesn’t belong. Reading and knitting is fine. Watching tv and knitting ok. Talking on the cellphone while driving and drinking coffee not cool at all. Do they think this makes them look important?

  14. Anyone who thinks they are a “good mulitasker” (male or female) is either very good at self-delusion or has very low quality standards.

  15. I can’t read and knit at the same time. When I’m reading I can’t do anything else, don’t hear anything else, don’t feel anything else. The only time reading failed me was when I was in labor. That I felt. Often, I feel incapable of putting down a book until I finish it. If I start a book, I feel compelled to finish it(I’ve only quit reading two books before I finished–Moby Dick and a history of music that was so dry it made mummies look juicy.) Three of my kids are just like me. I’ll have
    three days of complete silence when the last Harry Potter book comes out–they’ll all read it in one day. Now to decide who gets it first.

  16. Joe, when are you using to stop letting your unpleasant encounters with individuals lead you to make sweeping, and usually negative, generalizations about entire categories of people? Last time it was lawyers; this time it’s multitaskers. The fact this multitasking woman got in your way in the grocery store parking lot does not say anything about other people’s ability to multitask or about the value of multitasking in general.


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