Can you multi-task? Truly? I’m a man, I cannot. It’s just not within me to be able to juggle tasks at the same time and do anything approaching a decent job with any of them. Many are the comments that come my way from female friends who claim that men cannot multi-task.
I don’t know if this is just urban myth, if there is something to this ? Folks, what gender are ya and can you successfully multi-task?
I don’t generally have to at work, although I can. At home, with two small children, it’s pretty much a given. A typical evening would be: Throw in a load of laundry, while starting dinner preparations, while helping with the math homework, while monitoring the 5-year-old who likes to take things apart, while checking if there is anything in the mail/school announcements that needs prompt attention. This is why we have a pet fish.
I guess it depends on what you mean by “multi task.” I can only give my attention to one thing at a time, but I can do mindless things that don’t require so much attention at the same time I’m doing something else. If one of the tasks is something I do by habit (like housework), I can talk on the phone or watch TV at the same time. However, I can’t watch TV and do something like talk on the phone unless I totally ignore one or the other. Likewise, I can answer emails while sitting through a boring conference call where I don’t have to pay much attention. But if I do have to pay attention, I can’t work on other things.
My boss has said I’m particularly good at “multi tasking” but I think what I do is more setting clear priorities and then focusing on the most important item till it reaches a stopping point (like waiting on data from elsewhere) and then moving on to the next (usually unrelated) item and moving back when the higher priority item picks up again. So at any given time I’m focused on one item, but throughout the day I work on several.
I can multi-task at work which really consists of doing sets of two or three tasks, one or two mindless, one not, at the same time while keeping other tasks in varying stages of completion to be worked on at the approriate time. At home I can talk on the phone, supervise homework time and do any chores, while keeping somewhere in my head an awareness of what the kids are doing and planning for what needs to be done for the rest of the evening to make sure everything gets finished.
My husband on the other hand cannot multi-task. If he’s signing his name on a check at the store he can’t keep an eye on the kid in the cart. He can’t watch a tv show and keep track of the kids with any success. He can’t watch tv and remember to start the childrens’ bedtime activities. If he’s doing something mindless like washing the dishes, and I ask him a question, he has to stop washing the dishes before he can answer. It’s a pretty big source of arguments at our house. I know it’s not his fault but it makes him seem like he’s not making an effort.
Didn’t someone once discover that womens brains work completely differently than mens? Something about the connections between the two halves of the brain, women have the sides connected and men don’t.
It’s very difficult for me to concentrate just one one thing. I have ADD and I find that if I try to just sit and only study, I don’t get any studying done. When I wanted to study for my economics test recently, I put in a Rammstein DVD, spread my stuff out in the living room in front of the tv and munched on popsicles as I alternated between reading and doing practice problems.
I also have a pretty complex fantasy world that I think about when I am not doing anything mentally engaging.
I am the male monotasking stereotype personified. I can barely turn my car and talk at the same time. My wife thinks she monotasks, but I’ve noticed the more tasks she juggles, the less well she accomplishes any given task. She handles the stress of kids asking questions, cooking dinner, dogs making messes, etc. all simultaneously much better than I, but near as I can make out, can only concentrate on one task at a time.
Female - constantly multi-tasking. Why, I can even go to the bathroom, pet the dogs and talk to one of the kids at the same time. And sometimes, I even have the SO or one of the other kids on the phone while doing all this! Amazing, isn’t it!
My SO has not, in 23 years of marriage, figured out how to get everything to the dinner table at one time. One dish is always hot, and all the others range down in warmth and are cooked to mush. ( I try not to let him cook too often.)
I have noticed the multi-tasking ability in our 2 daughters, as well. They are perfectly happy chatting on the phone while IM’ing friends while listening to music. Our son, however, has to stop whatever he is doing if he wants to talk, just like dear ol’dad.
I cannot stop multi-tasking. I am constantly working on numerous tasks, both on the computer and off. Right now I have two message boards open that I am reading, a movie playing that I am watching, three Word Docs open that I am writing in, and several IM conversations going. I can give you a complete rundown on each of them. Each individual task may take longer than it would if I could do it alone, but overall the combined time spent on these tasks is less. More importantly, this is the only way my brain functions.
My boyfriend is not good at multi-tasking. I’ll say “clean the living room while I clean the kitchen.” While I do the entire kitchen (washing dishes, cleaning the fridge, counters, microwave) I’ll come back and he’ll be working on one project within the living room.
Cooking a meal and having it ready at one time is almost impossible for me but if I have a task that takes my full attention I’m in heaven. I love to track down software bugs and I can get so involved I lose all sense of the rest of the world. I build a model in my mind that excludes the rest of reality, I don’t hear things around me, I don’t even notice my physical condition. More than once I’ve solved a problem only to find three hours or more have passed, my legs are asleep, I’m shivering, and my mouth is so dry I couldn’t spit on a bet.
My wife has labeled my condition A.S.S. for attention surplus syndrome. At least that’s what she tells me it means.
I multi-task to a certain degree. One of my jobs is doing historical research on buildings – and I usually hit the library’s research section in search of answers to up to five projects at a time, scouring the sources for all five.
But I prefer to concentrate on single tasks I want completed and out of the way.