There is all sorts of condemnation online and in books about multi-tasking. It’s unproductive. You don’t get anything done. You feel like you haven’t accomplished anything even when you’re busy. And on and on.
It’s discouraging. Especially as a woman who is easily distracted by the squirrels of life. Am I doomed to failure because focusing is so much harder in a world with email and social media notifications? And cat videos on YouTube?
And isn’t there a book comparing men to waffles and women to spaghetti? Spaghetti??? Does that sound like a person that operates their entire life in a neat, linear, and organized fashion?
Can I get an “Amen!” from all those women out there juggling careers, relationships, errands, volunteer events, school, kids, laundry, doctor/dentist/eye appointments, cooking, etc.?!
I’ve tried the techniques to eradicate multi-tasking. Making to-do lists, turning off notifications, and jotting down ideas that wander through my stream of consciousness if I’m in the middle of another task. I have so many little Post-its with notes all over that my desk looks like an April Fool’s joke. I’m writing this and thinking about dinner, finding a new primary care physician, and wondering when to take the ham down for Easter. I rest my case.
I used to think that all the thoughts I processed in my head counted against me for multi-tasking. I was trying to remember grocery lists and client calls and special projects and marketing ideas while working, and I felt condemned. Destined to live an unproductive life.
Why? Because those articles said so.
I wasn’t focused. I wasn’t all in. I wasn’t giving 110% to the task at hand. Or to life goals. I was *gasp* distracted.
But you know what? I still got articles done. I still cooked meals. I still did excellent work for clients. I took time to feed my spirit. Workout. Love on friends and snuggle with my hubby. I made phone calls, wrote emails, wrote down plans, and created proposals.
Am I where I want to be? No. I can’t do everything. I have to prioritize projects. And I have an ever-fertile mind of curiosity that continuously spits out new ideas to tackle. Could I be a lot more organized? Sure!
But I’m done condemning myself. I’m not going to let the fact that my life mimics a roller coaster more often than not make me feel like I’ll never reach my potential. The fact that my brain is processing multiple projects and I’m STILL being productive is an asset, not a liability. I’m not going to accept the premise that whatever I do is less-than because it was done amongst competing attention-grabbers.
I’m not going to lie. There are days I crush the to-do list, and days I wonder what the heck I did all day — even with a to-do list. There are days I can force all those thoughts into a linear fashion, and other days where I bounce from competing priorities.
I don’t claim to have all the answers or a scientific fall-back. What I do have is ENCOURAGEMENT, especially to the women out there who feel like they’re doing it ALL.
Don’t let them make you feel defective because you won’t “focus” on a career instead of your family. Or that you’re not “all in” because you’re cooking while listening to a podcast. Or if you remember something really important and it requires you to put the current task on hold. Life will do that to your perfect 3-point to-do list anyway. You’ll still get to where you’re going.
Always work on ways to better yourself. If you can make changes, go for it! But ladies, we’re not waffles. Our lives will very rarely be compartmentalized. And we’ll feel ourselves pulled in a host of different directions — sometimes all at once. You’re not a failure. You’re not doomed to an unproductive life. You can still accomplish wonderful things and reach your potential. And for those of us who are married, I’m pretty certain that our husbands appreciate the fact that we can multi-task.
What am I saying?
Maybe we should worry less about how we can’t seem to get it together and more about optimizing how we’re wired to accomplish more.
I believe that women are wired to multi-task. Stop condemning how you’re wired and celebrate it! Maybe we’ll find ourselves accomplishing more when we do.
Janeile Cudjoe-Myers is the Digital Marketing Consultant at Zig !t Marketing, an agency she started in 2009 to support organizations with web design, social media, and email marketing. She spends her free time enjoying life with her husband and living vicariously through the people on HGTV.