Multi-tasking: Squeeze every last drop

Happy Father’s Day!

We do a segment on our podcast called “Father Stories.” Since our fathers were influential in shaping the people we are today, we decided to do an entire segment talking about some of the stories we remember growing up. (And yes our mothers were too, but that goes without saying!)

If you’d like to share a story about your father, please drop us a note and put “Father Stories” in the header. We may just read yours on an upcoming podcast. And if you’re a blogger, we’ll certainly give you some props. Thanks!

Also, there’s been some general confusion about THE GUYS. So we’re here to clear this up. Yes, we are a bunch of guys. Some of the guys write. Some of the guys work on the podcast. And some of the guys work behind the scenes. We also have a creative team. So from now on, some of us will be putting our first names on our posts. Any post written collaboratively will be from THE GUYS.

Hope this helps!

Written by Sai, aka “One of the Guys”

I’m never late. Or at least I never used to be late.

It seems my urge to be productive has begun to affect my punctual side. Whenever I have 15 minutes of “idle time” I try to squeeze every drop I can out of it. I might try to respond to a few more emails, pay a couple of bills, make a quick call, or even try to fix something around the house. After I’ve done these things, sure enough I’ve well surpassed the 15 minutes I once had, and now I’m late to my next appointment. And of course odds are, I will surely land behind a bus or a truck as I race to make up the time on the road.

If this sounds familiar, you are also suffering from over-productivity. Over-productivity you say? How can someone actually be over productive?  Believe me you can. This circumstance happens when your self-induced production diminishes another experience.

We all do this to a certain extent these days. And technology has made it very easy. When the cell phone was introduced it was used primarily for emergencies: being stranded on the road, being lost, or for reminding our spouse to pick up milk for cereal the next morning. But what’s happened is something no one could have predicted. Cell phones have to a great extent replaced landlines. We talk everywhere, including elevators, cars, business meetings, parties and even on dates. It’s given us ways to multi-task that we could never have conceived. But has it actually simplified our lives and made things easier?

Multi-tasking can be a good thing, but it also has a detrimental effect. It constantly beckons us throughout our days. It makes us scattered and unfocused. And it makes us feel like we should always be doing something. Actually not just something, but more than one thing. And if somehow we can do three or four things at once that’s even better. Of course this never-ending cycle will eventually run us into the ground.

And not only is technology doing exactly the opposite of what it was intended, it’s also reaching into other parts of our culture and diminishing those experiences. “Idle” has become a dirty word in our society, and it’s associated with laziness, aimlessness, and worthlessness. But in my mind it’s something we all should strive for more.

Experiences are being lost every day. They are following the lead of the Dodo Bird. Experiences like reading a good book, or taking a relaxing walk on the beach WITHOUT a phone, or sitting without fidgeting while our kids tell us about their day, are all being squeezed out in favor of screen time. Even books are being replaced by computerized versions of themselves.

I for one certainly like all these new gadgets and inventions. It shows that the spirit of ingenuity and invention is still very much alive in our world. But these gadgets shouldn’t replace and dilute everyday experiences. They should enhance them and give us new ways to actually experience life.

We’ve come too far to start regressing, but let’s make sure that even as we squeeze every last drop out of our day, we at least leave a few minutes to enjoy the lemonade, while taking in a quiet sunset.

Are you a multi-tasker? How so?

How do you think technology is impacting our lives? Good? Not so good?

How many things can you do at once? (I’m expecting some creative things here!)

Do you value “idle” time? In what ways?

29 Comments on Multi-tasking: Squeeze every last drop

  1. I have tried many times to multitask, sometimes I succeed, sometimes I failed badly. I like the idea of multitasking but I found that I do better and faster if I was doing one thing at a time; trying to do a few things at the same time could make me lost my focus and in the end I took longer to complete each task. So it seems that what I like do not go in line with what I can do.

    Technology certainly makes our life easier in many ways and yet at time we tend to forget the important of human touch. We must always remind ourselves to love people and use technology instead of loving technology and using people.

  2. Mulit-tasking you say? Yes, indeed it has become a normalcy in my cerebral world. My peaceful train ride to the city used to be reading a novel, like you mentioned. Now I have my itouch, which I am listening to music on AND surfing the NYT on AND taking a phone call from my brother OR a text message from my husband. I keep trying to pick up that book again, but I am drawn to my little gadgets! How much information can I cover on this train ride?
    At work, it has become information over-load. No more team meetings where we get together & discuss the “new plan”. It is sent via emails at any moment throughout the day.
    You need to stop what you are doing, read the information & start changing your ways right then & there. Just you & the computer are in the room, no one else. No discussion time, no question & answer time. Just start this new process. Forget about the 100 other emails that you have to read too.
    I love the technology, I am drawn to the technology, but it does cause the day to be come more crazy than I ever had anticipated!
    Thanks for another thought-provoking post GUYS!

  3. The closest I come to multi-tasking is taking a magazine into the can.

    I refuse to jump into that “Cellphone Runs my Life” BS. I only got my first cell in 2006, because it was either that or carry a beeper for work. I have a 200 minute plan, of which I may use 2-3 a month. I have no unlimited text or internet plan, so my bill is about $30 per month. My cell spends 98% of its life turned off. I use it at my convenience, not for that of the world at large. I tell people, “I have a phone on my desk at work, and a phone at my house. Why would I need my cell on for that 20 minutes I spend (when not in a subway tunnel) going from home to work and back?

    No one is that indispensable that they can’t be off the grid for 20 minutes, unless they’ve been elected the Leader of the Free World. So I use my phone to make the occasional call, or be available in case meet-up plans change. I also send the occasional text when watching a game either at a bar or at the game itself. It is by no means my primary means of communication, although I admit that it might be if it didn’t take me so long to tap out a *&%#%* message on my non-qwerty keyboard.

    You know, I smell a cell phone post on the horizon…

  4. Rod couldn’t multitask if someone held a gun to his head! He is a very methodical guy. I, on the other hand, can do several things at once, and get through in time to have a litle fun. He loves gadgets a lot more than I do, and can make his cell phone do anything but a handstand. I don’t even know how to clear my minutes every month.

    When I am painting, or writing, however, it takes all my concentration. I CAN clean the bathroom and talk on my cell.

  5. My Hubby was on the phone a few days ago, had to ask him a quick question, used sign language .Not to my surprise he couldn’t provide me with the answer whilst on the phone. When he came off the phone all I could do was laugh, told him he was not much good at multitasking but he disagreed with me.

    I love technology too ..the great mobile phones, has helped at least we could respond to emails whilst on the train..

    Happy father’s Day Guys 🙂

  6. Happy Father’s day, OTG! This is a really nice post. I hope the multi-taskers who are reading this are not doing something else at the same time. Cell phones? I only use it as an alarm clock so I can wake up in time to take care of my daughter before she goes to school.

    Are you a multi-tasker? How so?

    Uhm, no. Concentrating on one object at a time works best for me.

    How do you think technology is impacting our lives? Good? Not so good?

    What a coincidence. I’m creating a post about this to scare the bejesus out of everyone.

    How many things can you do at once? (I’m expecting some creative things here!)

    Shave my facial hair, brush my teeth, take a shower, flush the toilet… hmm… that’s just about it. Sorry, I’m not very creative. =(

    Do you value “idle” time? In what ways?

    Absolutely! I try to think about nothing. It’s the hardest thing to do in the whole friggin world.

  7. @BK………You have it right. I am a multi-tasker, but I always find when I’m focused on one thing I do much better. And of course being focused allows for the human touch to come through.

    @GoGo……..It seems to pull you doesn’t it? It’s ironic really. You sound busy as hell!

    @Bluzdude……the longer you can stay off the grid the better. Balance is good and you’ve got a good handle on it. Don’t change. And of course, there’s nothing better than reading on the can!

    @Judie……I multi-task to get the stuff done that I don’t really want to do. That way I have more time to really focus on the people in my life. It’s a never ending struggle. But I agree, when working on art/music/writing, I have to be completely focused and present!

    @Fatima…………Thanks! Yes, the mobile phone has helped a ton, as long as it doesn’t consume us.

    @Ryhen…………Focusing on nothing is funny to think about, but it’s true. The mind wants to constantly multi-task. It’s our job to slow it down and just feel, see, touch, smell and taste.

  8. “Multi-tasking can be a good thing, but it also has a detrimental effect. It constantly beckons us throughout our days. It makes us scattered and unfocused.”

    Indeed. I can NO longer Multi-task. These days, I make a To-Do List, and I only do ONE THING AT A TIME until it’s completed and crossed off!

  9. I’m glad that you are now going to introduce yourselves at the end of your posts. It will be fun getting to know you individually.:)

    Right now I am multitasking.:) I’m watching TV and reading this blog post. Since I’ve gotten my IPhone my life has changed drastically. I use it to check my email and respond to people immediately. I can be on several things at once on my laptop, but on an IPhone it takes a lot of maneuvering to do two things at once like copying and pasting a website into email or Facebook.:) But it is a way to stay in touch and if you can’t respond the way you want to then you can at least let the other person know you got the email and when you can do what you have to do. For me with all the writing I do and now I’m involved in editing, the emails can be very important to see. Being able to read them when I’m out of the house is great!

    But if you have the Notes app you can be creative too. It used to be that when I got inspired to write I needed paper. So I used to carry this huge notebook with me. Now all I need is my IPhone. I can write it in the Notes and either copy it into email and have it when I get home or copy it off the phone to my own file. It’s also great for responding to comments on my blog. I haven’t attempted to post yet when I’m away from my computer and don’t think I would do it unless the post just begged to be written.:) There is also an app where you can find a recipe and it generates your shopping list for you. Or you can use the Notes for a list. I love to shop and delete until I get to the end of the list. I don’t forget anything that way.:)

    But I’m a woman and we’re used to multitasking. I once gave one of my daughters a shower while I was breastfeeding another. Now that’s multitasking. I’ve also cooked while doing the same thing.

  10. @Barbara………Breastfeeding while giving your other daughter a shower!!??? Wow!! You’re amazing! I wonder if they’ll be an app for that?

    @Meleah………I’m all about the To-Do-List! But I still try to do more things than once. Right now, I’m cooking dinner and typing this. I wonder if the food will taste like that too.

  11. I’ve always prided myself on being the slowest runner in the race.

    “What is this life, if full of care
    We have no time to stand and stare?”

    That’s been my philosophy as long as I can remember, and no amount of technological advancement is likely to change it.

  12. Ugh, I am SO guilty of trying to squeeze something in if I have 10 extra minutes…so I’m perpetually late. I blame it on my PR background…there was always something else to communicate, advertsie, etc. My boyfriend however is ALWAYS on time. I’m sure this is annoying to him. The thing is, if I have an extra few minutes, there are always people to email back, calls to make, etc. It never ends. But I also can’t feel like I’m wasting time. Sigh.

  13. What the fuck is IDLE time???? I never have enough time for ANYTHING!!! And I’m ALWAYS late… for everything. My daughter had so many tardy’s to school the bitch teacher started giving her dirty looks. DOES MY 5 YEAR OLD DRIVE THE FUCKING CAR???? No, didn’t think so bitch!

  14. Multi-tasking has become almost second nature for me. I don’t really like it though. I think it’s a source of stress. But hehe, I think I get more done than my hubby that way! LOL!

  15. Love the post and the comments! Am very curious about you guys so will be great to get to know you individually.

    Happy Father’s Day to all the dads – you play such an amazing role.

    RE multi-tasking – am soooo guilty of this one. However in 2010 the plan is to simplify my life so I can become less multi-tasker and more focused (and successful – which for me is more love, peace, joy, hope, financially free, great health, and purposeful life).

    I am going for balance these days – my default speed has two settings – flat out or absolutely spent (burnt out) – neither are such peaceful choices.

    Ditto with Ryhen “Do you value “idle” time? In what ways?

    Absolutely! I try to think about nothing. It’s the hardest thing to do in the whole friggin world.”

    however am working on it!!!

  16. I’m going to be honest here and tell you straight out- I can only do 2 things at once. No matter what it is. Multi-tasker… I am not. If I try to do 3 things at once, the chance of me being distracted are high to the point of me maybe running into a bus full of nuns holding babies. It wouldn’t be good.

    I’m glad you cleared that up for me about “The Guys”. I was curious but was afraid to ask. I sometimes thought, Oh shit, I wonder if this is just one dude writing all this stuff up. The podcast -yeah- you can tell. But I thought, with the blog–I wonder if it’s one dude with multiple personalities and he’s just pretending to be a bunch of people because he is, in fact, INSANE. Ahhhhh! 🙂

    Great post. Take care. I’ll offer up a Father story to ya soon.

  17. Are you a multi-tasker? How so? — There are times that I am. In my line of work, you have to be able to multi-task and be productive.

    How do you think technology is impacting our lives? Good? Not so good? — The advantage of technology is that it makes life simple for most of us. The disadvantage? It makes my siblings lazy and borderline stupid at home. My sister’s too busy texting and my brother’s too busy chatting.

    How many things can you do at once? (I’m expecting some creative things here!) — While at work, listening to the doctors, typing the medical reports, foot pedaling, and reading. At home, designing jewelry while watching TV and/or reading blogs. (Or maybe just listening to the TV. 😀 )

    Do you value “idle” time? In what ways? — Of course. If I really don’t have to do anything, I just sleep. Or space out.

  18. Happy belated Father’s Day!

    I’ve missed all of the guys and I’m happy to pay this visit.

    Judging from your silhouette, I assumed there were only 3 guys. But after reading the intro, I get the impression there are a lot of you. No matter how many or how few, I still love all of you guys.

    I was a multi-tasker and an over-achiever. I’ve since made myself slowdown and I never use the word lazy. I embrace my electronic gizmos but I still play an occasional LP on my record player. (Notice, I didn’t say turn – table.)

    I’ll come back here soon,

  19. When I look at all the stuff that I do…I get a little bit dizzy because it seems like A LOT. And it is! I think I’m just very good at prioritizing and time management. I’m also a bit of an insomniac. That helps. I would have it no other way though.

    As far as technology goes, I love it and hate it at the same time. The way I balance it out is that if there is someone else in the room and they’re interacting with me in some way, I’m not looking at a screen unless it’s to check the time or they ask me to do something that requires looking at a screen. I’ve been on the go a lot lately, so I’ve definitely seen how technology is important in my life and would never be able to go off the grid. I just cherish my moments when I’m outdoors, or just sitting on the couch with my puppies.

    If compelled, and I usually am, I can balance a ton of things all at once. In fact, it’s the only way I can work. I write a lot of my stories while at work, with about 5 windows open on the computer, MAYBE 2 of them work-related, and listening to music. It’s insane. I’m always FAR ahead of deadlines and expectations though, and by the end of the day, have a bunch of things jotted down that I was inspired by while goofing off.

    I know one of you saw the story about my dad. It was hard to write because no matter what I tried, I couldn’t do my dad justice. He’s friggin awesome. I gave it my best shot though and you can use it if you like.

  20. I am a definite multi-tasker as are most women I know. It’s a necessity. And biological. It may feel less natural to you (a GUY) because it’s biologically NOT naural. There’s a joke in my house about Hubby trying to become a better multi-tasker and becoming ADD in the process. So now nothing gets done, but all at once! 😉

  21. @nothingprfound………..I always thought the tortoise had it figured out.

    @Kelly…………Yes, it does seem to go on and on. But I know the feeling of trying to be productive all the time. I hate feeling like I’m wasting time. I guess it’s about reprogramming how you think about wasting time.

    @CB…………And that’s the problem with life today. No one has enough time. That’s why we multi-task. Putting on make up while driving. Talking on cell phones while going for a walk. Answering emails while cooking dinner, etc. It just never stops!

    @Liggy……….Sometimes I wonder if my To Do List is just a bunch of bunk. And if I chucked it would have of the stuff matter? I don’t know.

    @Cathy……….It’s a good goal to be more present and soak in everything. I can’t speak to “thinking about nothing.” That’s too hard for me right now.

    @Gnetch…………I’m not so sure it’s simplified my life. Take email for example. Sure it’s eliminated the phone, but now I have a ton of emails that call for me to respond to them. It’s overwhelming. I’m connected to more people, but the actual connections are not that strong. Meaning I’m too spread out. I’d rather have stronger connections with less people.

    @Diane……………Great to see you again. Ahh, the days of the record player. Love those days! I still have my entire album collection, minus a Jimi Hendrix record that I can’t find. I’m bummed about that. It’s a great collection but a pain to move, that’s for sure. I need to slow down. It’s hard with three kids!

    @Lovy……..That’s amazing you can do all that at work. You must have a pretty cool boss, or just be so good that it doesn’t matter that you’re multi-tasking while you’re there. Yes, we may just use your father story on our podcast. I’ll let you know. Thanks.

    @Charlene……….I must have a strong feminine side because I’m pretty good at multi-tasking. I was a school teacher for a while and talk about juggling!!? I had 28 kids in one class and every day was full of multi-tasking. Crazy!! I don’t have the energy anymore, especially with three of my own!

  22. i’m def an over multi-tasker. most days i’m late for work because i insist on folding a load of wash, emptying the dishwasher, picking up all of the dog’s toys, or whatever i can do outside what is necessary to get ready for work. they’re all things that could wait so essentially i create my own problems by overdoing.

    cell phones, blackberries, etc. all just made us more connected to the office which i vehemently oppose, but was never able to avoid.

    just don’t text or talk on your phone when i’m in your company! and don’t talk on the phone when you’re in a restaurant, in line at the deli, on the elevator, on the train… believe it or not i don’t want to hear your conversation and actually consider it to be noise pollution.

  23. I’m often complimented by the powers that be on how much I accomplish and the quality of my work. I just don’t have enough things to do so I pace myself. It’s kind of ridiculous. I need a public desk job.

  24. I think multi-tasking and technology is great. Just last night, I had the Macbook pro on my lap, watching the big screen on CNN saving the turtles, and pelicans from oil, while checking my iPhone text messages, and sipping a glass of wine. That’s the LIFE! 🙂

    You know thing is, if somebody hadn’t been INTO technology and non-idle time, then nothing would have progressed and we’d still be going in the outhouse, and riding horses to the next town to send a message, or watching the fireplace for fun (on second thought, that sounds kinda nice).

    I am happy for all the multi-tasking techno-geeks. God love ya! I’m ready for what they think of next. It keeps my mind going.

  25. I’ve definitely forgotten what it means to relax. I’m always multi-tasking when I’m idle instead of just being. That’s why I love vacations where I unplug completely and just appreciate the moment for what it is.

    Sometimes I think our society would be better off without all this crazy technology. Then again I wouldn’t have a job. 😉

  26. I had to multi-task on the golf course today–I had one eye on the coyote on the other side of the green, listening for the sprinkler that was making its way toward me, and the other eye on the ball. I got wet! Again! I guess golf is like painting and writing, it needs FOCUS!

  27. @Patty Punker…………I’m with you 110%! Just kidding….in reference to a former post. But seriously, people talking on the phone in a public place drive me crazy!

    @Lovy………..Well, in some ways it’s better to not have enough to do. You’re creative enough to fill your time obviously.

    @Angelia………Like I said, I’ve got nothing against technology, just how we use it. This past winter we got an old woodburning stove and I loved just sitting there staring at it. The ocean has that same sort of calling for me as well.

    @Date Girl………….I’m with you. And I always sleep so much better on vacations because I know I don’t have anything to do. I’ve got to put that on my To Do List. Take more vacations! Yeah, right after, Make More Money!

    @Judie…………Golf and Coyotes should not be said in the same sentence. Scary!

  28. Enter your comments here…
    Hi, a really great and thought-provoking post about the pressures modern technology puts on us. It’s there so we have to use it – or not in my case.

    I can multi task in some areas of my life – bringing up 3 kids with no other help taught me that. I am also able to hold quite diverse thought and ideas in my head and I have a very good memory but, and it’s a big but…. gadgets drive me to distraction.

    I have a mobile phone that I rarely have with me as I am protective of my boundaries and if I am doing something whether it is work-wise of personally, if I don’t want a spontaneous interruption, the mobile is chucked in a drawer.

    I got a new mobile a couple of months ago becasue the dog chewed the old one. I went along to the shop as I have had this old phone a while and I always turn down upgrades. The girl (and she was a girl) who served me called her colleagues over to look at the museum piece I was trading in as they had never seen one.

    They upgraded me, I said I want to make calls and send texts. End of. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. Instead i was given this thing that looks like it came off the star ship enterprise, all black and glossy and a touch screen. I was told it had loads of Apps to organise my multi-tasking and it can communicate with my other devices. I asked her if it could iron or make a meringue. It can’t. I loathe it. I keep taking photographs of myself and yesterday it started to play, quite unbidden music. It flashes green neon lights at me when a call comes in.

    I can multi-task, I can cook dinner whilst holding a normal phone under my chin and talk to my mother, whilst telling the dog to ‘put that down’, wiping a small childs nose, turning on the washing machine and applying lipstick and my head is writing a speech I need to give at a Womens centre.

    You give me a gadget that can do that and I shall go sit in the sun.

    Smiles and blessings.

  29. Where was I when you wrote this? Must have been while I was having my stroke. :/

    And I totally misread that “dildo bird” (apparently brain cells are dying faster than I can read).

    This comment got so long I decided to turn it into my next blog post so you’ll have to go there. Sorry.

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