Monday, February 28, 2011

The perils of multitasking

Mornings demand multitasking. For most of us, whether we work at home or elsewhere, it's a time when we are rushing to open the door to ten different service providers from the milkman to the newspaperwallah to the trash collector to the next-door neighbour asking for a cup of sugar, while the phone rings to give you the latest on whether the bandh will affect your organization or your child's school or not,  and the other phone, of the mobile variety, beeps insistently with messages ranging from bill alerts to not-to-miss sale alerts. Breathless already? Well that's the reality most of us whizz through every morning--we just don't stop long enough to make that list!

When the morning is complicated by a television turned on and tuned into Oscar fever, things don't get helped much. The milk boils over while you are watching Jake Gyllenhall smile at Amy Adams or trying to not watch Aish and Abhishek sound trite and plastic. The toast burns in the toaster that doesn't pop up (yes, the one you've sworn to fix next weekend) while you wish for the tenth time that you could go watch a movie in a real theatre eating real buttered popcorn instead of on your laptop off a CD that might get you into trouble with the piracy police. 

Before you know it, you have all of half an hour in which to shower, make yourself look presentable, pack the high-energy lunchboxes, wolf down some breakfast, stuff your satchel with every paper and book you are likely to need and some that you just might...and make it to work on time.

It's a rush (and not the pleasurable kind) that gets complicated by the presumed ability to work on many different things at the same time.  It's not just that many things need to get done within a limited amount of time, so you stack them up on the same time slot and handle one with one arm and another with one leg while the other two limbs get ready to handle the next two tasks. It's that all this while, your mind is multitasking too. One track has its eye on the simmering pot but the other is planning the morning's lecture (and not the "to-the-kids" variety) while yet another is thinking about the grocery list and a fourth is thinking you need to get to the phone and make that call before you forget...and as you turn to swear at the boiled-over milk, you forget.

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