Queer Thing, This Multitasking

When I was in school, my friends said there was a sure shot way to excel in Math. Practise it while listening to music. I was apprehensive of even trying it. The reason: There wouldn’t be any music playing in the examination hall. What if I get stuck? Scary, isn’t it?

But I still wanted to be able to do more than one thing at a time. So when this friend of mine told me that she completed her Physics records while watching the Sunday mega serial, it seemed like a great idea. Saved time, and you watched TV without feeling guilty and would be doing more than one task. The following Sunday when I settled down on the diwan, with the physics record, and the TV remote, and a kid sister in tow, I didn’t know my two-tasks-at-once funda would die so young. My father’s stare (or was it a glare?) and my Uncle’s non-appreciative attitude had me back into the study.

So it’s always been that way: In school, it was no memorising for the test during games, no talking during the class, no peering into someone’s answer sheet during the test, and at home, no reading while eating, no watching TV while eating, no talking while eating/studying/sleeping/dreaming… so on and so forth

Think you’re getting the connection? Good. Don’t yawn…

I understand that it was necessary to teach us good discipline and to stay focussed, but now I am suffering, aren’t I? Think about this. When it was time to jump to lucrative offers, the monster called Multitasking was gleefully lurking around the corner.

Just to be extra careful, before attending the interview, I thought I should look up for its meaning. I was actually fine with the meaning, but the example sent me into a tizzy.
Multitasking: “… doing several things at once. For example, a CEO could be involved in simultaneously listening to a telephone board meeting on mute, participating in a credit committee, IM’ing daughter, signing legal documents, while checking email on blackberry.”


I had left Math miles away, but the music was there. I mean, my quandary now was, how do I face the music? Then some kind hearted soul suggested that women are inherently, inadvertently and invariably endowed with Multitasking skills. “You just have to feel it in your bones and then you would realise.” (Sigh! Wish I had been more regular with Horlicks and Sandoz). She added, “For all you know you might already be doing it, but may not know it.”


And then one fine day, it struck me! Yes I knew it! However I wanted to be sure. So I asked my colleague and a good friend (until then) of what she thought of my simultaneous ability to stir the dal and come up with an interesting plot for my next children’s fiction. “I can’t really comment until I taste your dal.” Huh! That left some bitter taste and I resolved never again to share my recipes with her.


Anyway I moved on to a job I wanted. Thankfully my manager didn’t mind that little lag in the “skill”. He was sure I would be able to refine it over time. Refine I did, the meaning.
Some soft skills pundits by then had started advocating that multitasking was nothing but prioritising. Needless to say I jumped and grabbed the new found definition.
Now multitasking wasn’t so difficult. I finally struck gold one fine day, when I brought the project to a closure, took care of bugs of another project, worked on the white paper, made preparations for the birthday party of our team mate, handled the errant printer. I decided to treat myself to the expensive stole that I had been eyeing at the store.
But before that, during the meeting next day morning, I bragged to my Manager as to how I had successfully “multitasked” the previous day – but carefully avoiding to use the word. It was for him to see, you see…
“All without sacrificing my tea break and without having to stay back late”, I quipped for an added measure! Now it was time for the much awaited compliment.
“Oh wonderful! You have proven ability in Time Management…”


Notwithstanding the slightly altered confidence level, (which thankfully escaped without any major casualties), I stick to my guns… err… the latest definition.
Do tell me folks, what you think. Encouraging responses (only) are welcome.

Meanwhile I should strengthen my resolve — to never become a CEO!


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