Monday, 20 January 2014

While I Was Waiting

I’ve mentioned more than once on this blog that I have a grasshopper approach to my writing and to everything else I do as well. And as a woman, I am proud of the fact that I am a natural multitasker. But standing back and taking a look at my behaviour last Saturday morning made me wonder if I’d gone a bit too far.

Sitting at the table tucked into the eaves, I switched on the desk-top to pay a bill. This computer, which is only used for admin purposes, is old and slow [who said ‘like its owner’?] and takes an age to fire up. I pushed the keyboard out of the way and switched on my laptop to check my emails while I was waiting. Outlook seemed to take an age to open; so I flipped over to Facebook while I was waiting. That seemed to be working quite slowly too; so I pulled the latest issue of Writing Magazine out of the rack and read the winning short story while I was waiting.

And then I realised what I was doing - and started jotting down notes for this blog post! That’s five different operations all in progress at the same time. It’s no wonder I sometimes have difficulty finishing things.

My husband assures me the speed of operation of a computer is inversely proportional to the number of operations you ask it to do at the same time. He is horrified to find me sometimes with Facebook, Twitter, this blog and a couple of other pages all open at the same time, not to mention at least two spreadsheets and a Word document of several hundred pages. 

Of course, slow is a relative term; we’ve become so used to computers reacting to our commands instantly, when something takes a second or two, we get impatient. And there is so much information to take in these days, we try to fill every spare second with ‘useful’ activity.

But I’ve come to the conclusion giving my brain too many operations to complete at one go is slowing me down. So I’m going to try and keep my multitasking down to two levels in future. That way, maybe I’ll get more done.

Readers, what about you? Do you find yourself trying to do lots of things at the same time? And does that increase your efficiency or decrease it?


  1. Thank you! :) This is my life! And I get so many things going at once that I can't finish anything! :( I have to find a way to sloooooowwwww down! ;P

    1. See, I knew I wasn't the only one, Amy. Have you read Carl Honore's book 'In Praise of Slow'? My husband bought it for me some years ago. I guess I need to reread it!

  2. Last week, I started just doing all my writing in the morning. No email, nothing else checked until all the writing had been done. The result? The most productive week I've had in years.

    1. Yes, Greg, I try to make myself do that every so often - and it's certainly more productive. I just don't have the discipline to keep it up. I'm beginning to see the benefit of that software that locks you out of Social Media during working hours.