Ode to UniTaskers Everywhere

Stanford did a study and found multitaskers are less productive!

Now, “working moms” tend to promote themselves to the workforce as being ‘cable ready’ with the multitasking abilities employers seem to crave like candy these days – so why, you ask, am I joyous about this study, which might be damning to those of us who have to Do Everything All the Time?

Because I think multitasking is often a sham. Very few people really do it, and very few people really do it well.

Usually, multitasking means:

– I’ve got a good excuse for forgetting something

– I’m too busy to deal with you

– I can’t prioritize

– I’m not focused

– I’m disorganized

– I don’t know how to say No

– I’m reluctant to hire enough staff, so instead I’ll make one person do everything

– I believe that stress is a way of life and I’m willing to put myself and others through it

These days, if you use a computer, you’re a multitasker. You have ten tabs open, you’re Twittering and Tumbling and Fb-ing and emailing and maybe even working; you’re deleting all the Forwards of cute cuddling animals from your inlaws while you discuss the peanut policy at your kid’s preschool on the phone while you instant message your office mate about the toilet paper missing in the bathroom while you scribble a dinner recipe on your calendar.

But if I were an employer, I would want to know if, counter to what is now the norm, can you focus and do one thing at a time and do it well? Can you be thorough? Can you complete a task?

I personally am one of those people who can get lost in a novel that I’m writing or reading, get wrapped up in a daydream or idea that I’m developing, get honed in on a job task I’m finishing, and burn the green beans on the stove and not notice my toddler is peeing on the floor and totally miss just about everything else. It’s a curse – and a gift – that I have that kind of ability to concentrate amidst chaos. One that I don’t tout to prospective employers, because it sounds antithetical to the multitasking they desire.

But sometimes you need to be able to switch gears from one to the other.

So I say – if you’re a true multitasker, awesome.

But if you’re really a better unitasker – be brave. Admit it. Own up to your truth. And cite this study if you need to for proof that not being great at multitasking doesn’t mean you’re a poor worker.

Now being a¬† mother… I need to learn to put the book down when I’m cooking…


One Response to Ode to UniTaskers Everywhere

  1. Mary Beth says:

    This is great! I agree with you. Can you do one thing at a time and do it well? A terrific quality.

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