Women are naturals at multitasking. Can’t you imagine a cavewoman with a baby strapped to her back, leaning over a fire cooking dinner? Can’t you see her doing this while hollering at her husband to gather more fruits and legumes since the Paleo diet was very “in” back then (wink, wink)? My point is that women have been doing at least three things at once since the beginning of time. The “doing of things” doesn’t even account for the mental checklist that, at any given time, a woman is running through her head.
The Perks of Multitasking
Multitasking is one of the greatest skills known to women. We get shit done. Listen to a podcast while making dinner for our family? Piece of cake. Promote our side business while working our day job? All in a day’s work. Every woman I know does about 247,327 things everyday–it’s kind of insane. There is an immense societal pressure for women to have it all, and I believe it’s created some of the most productive women ever.
From full-time working moms to stay-at-home moms, women accomplish a significant amount during their days. Here are two examples:
- Friend 1: Mom of two works three days a week at a highly stressful job, teaches part-time at a university, and single-handedly manages the day-to-day operations of her family.
- Friend 2: Mom of one works full-time from home (in the midst of a significant renovation, recent move and daily human shenanigans). She is considering a foray into the world of multi-level-marketing.
This era includes some of the most accomplished women in all of history. While we still don’t make as much money as our male counterparts, we are key players in both the public and domestic spheres. We are jugglers and damn good ones, eager to cross off to-do lists wherever they exist. Ladies, we are Renaissance women in every sense, from the conference room to the changing table, and everywhere in-between.
The Drawbacks of Multitasking
You knew I was going here. As much as multitasking produces the most inspiring and productive women in all the land, I also see a tired lot. We are exhausted. This is not surprising as we do EVERYTHING and say “yes” to EVERYTHING. We produce so much, but all that production zaps a lot of energy.
This is not an indictment; but rather, a confession. The least productive emotion is guilt and, since we moms are all about being productive and feeling super guilty about it. I want to do my best to avoid eliciting guilt in you, my dear reader.
I answer emails while playing with my children and work on the computer in the living room while my daughters play independently. I work out while my kids watch a show. Also, I write columns, make dinner, practice yoga, and clean during naps. Sometimes simultaneously–I’m that good.
4 Ways to Keep Multitasking from Driving You Crazy
- Put your phone out of sight when you don’t need it. This is especially hard for all the moms out there who just want to snap pics of their babies all day. As Jim and Pam remind us, take mental pictures. But seriously, when your kids do something amazing, sit there in stillness and soak it up. Remember how it felt, what it looked like, how it smelled. Just BE in it. I have to put my phone upstairs so I’m not tempted. I’ll check it from time to time but that’s it. I try to do this for a couple hours a day…some days are more successful than others.
- Pick one thing to do and finish it. Then, reward yourself. Finish the laundry completely before moving on to your next task. Complete the email to that coworker before moving on to what you have to do next. Then reward yourself with something simple like a stretch or a cup of tea. The bigger the task, the bigger the reward. Yes, I am talking online shopping here, people!
- Sit and just “be” with your kids. If I know one thing about parenting, it’s that all the clichés are true. So if all the clichés about how our hearts are walking outside of our bodies and are true, then the annoying comments strangers make at the grocery store are true, too. It goes by really fast, we need to enjoy it. Stop and look at your kid today. Listen and talk to your kid today. Sit and laugh with your kid today. Just be still and be with your kid today.
- Just say “no.” Ninety-nine percent of all blogs targeted toward women have some point about saying “no,” don’t they? This ubiquitous advice follows us around for a reason: when it comes to saying “no” to doing more, women ride the struggle bus. More tasks? SURE, sign me up! A committee I don’t want to chair? Yes, please! If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. Just don’t. Granted, there are exceptions to this rule (do I have to take a shower?) but not many. Say “no.” Practice it often and firmly.
Give yourself some credit, you’re doing a lot. You’re amazing and competent. You love your kids like crazy and your butt looks awesome in those pants. Let’s see if we can keep our sanity in this amazing journey of motherhood.