It is often said that women are better multi-taskers than men. While the statement is meant as a compliment, an acknowledgement of the ability to juggle many things simultaneously, there is a flip side to it. Does multi-tasking mean that women are neither as deep thinkers nor as able to focus on issues or task as men are? We are not trying to engage in gender warfare, but we thought it a topic worth exploring. After all, many of us will admit to being multi-taskers at some time.
The talent argument is positive – you increase your efficiency and productivity, getting more done in less time by interleaving tasks together. For instance, right now I am writing this article, checking my email and throwing in a load of laundry. Just when I need to take a break, rest my eyes from the screen and retool my thought processes, the buzzer sounds and I take the opportunity to transfer the first load to the dryer. When you perform mindless activities in parallel with those requiring thought and concentration, the talent argument can be persuasive.
Do you TWW? For the uninitiated, TWW is the text shorthand for Texting While Walking. There have been an alarming number of reports and videos circulating on the internet and traditional media of serious injury to those who engage in TWW. From walking into buildings, tripping into fountains or wandering into traffic, when you see these demonstrations of multi-tasking gone awry, you shake your head at the examples of Darwin Award winners. There are states that are considering banning TWW, just as many have already enacted laws and fines for texting or handheld mobile phone use while driving. The argument is that the general populace needs to be saved from themselves – and having witnessed the behavior of drivers and walkers, I may have to agree.
Which is It?
So which is it? Not to belabor the point too strenuously, it can be both talent and torment or neither talent nor torment. It depends on the person, the priorities of the tasks, the amount of focus and concentration needed to perform them efficiently without compromising quality or safety. Learn to balance concentrating on those tasks that require the focus and effort while multi-tasking on those less complex activities that can be juggled in parallel. You can get the best of both worlds – and applaud the talent while avoiding the torment.