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Good article, Anne!

I'm suspicious of multitaskers. I think they are doing more than one thing at once, but I also think they're doing those things poorly. When I was in my late 20s, I expressed this view to some younger coworkers in the newsroom. I told them it was impossible to write a good story, while messing around on social media, chatting with their cubicle-mate, and doing several other things. They called me an old man. I was fine with that. Then I told them that we should check the data a month from now at our monthly metrics meetings. Let's see who puts out more stories, who has the most stories in the top ten, and who garners the most total page views. I crushed the kids by a country mile. They made a million excuses. One of them even said I was a better reporter! Well, um, OK but if that's your defense of multitasking, what are you even doing with your time?

One other multitasking anecdote. My wife is a proud multitasker. She was on a call and working on a budget when her sister texted her to say that she needed to get home to Florida ASAP because their mom was sick. She booked a flight and a hotel all while doing a bunch of other stuff at work. She then emailed me the reservations. The flight was fine -- not the best price, not the best time, but she got the dates and destination right, so no complaints there. But the hotel? She had booked us at a nudist resort. We are not nudists. At that point, I took a pause on my work, canceled the reservation, and booked us at a hotel with a strict no shoes, no shirt, no service policy.

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CRUSHING THE KIDS! That's where it's at, Mr. Estrin.

Love this anecdote about the nudist resort! I can also see your wife's error as function of having just gotten that bad news. Trying to do anything while you're agitated or feeling very emotional is a sort of multi-tasking unto itself.

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That's true. I should also point out that she's made some questionable bookings in otherwise sound emotional states. I've given up asking her to stop multitasking and instead asked her to delegate (to me) more.

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Wow, hats off to these ladies.

I multitask and hate myself for it because I'm one of those folks who don't do it well because -- sorry, just had an idea for a Facebook post that I'm now writing up while typing this comment, plus I'm also reading Mike Sowden's latest Everything is Amazing while also lifting weights and -- oh, crap! I just dropped a twenty-pound barbell on my foot and I'm sorry, but what newsletter is this again?

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LOL So funny Mr. Jensen. I agree it can be hard to not be distracted by one thing while doing another thing. My brain is always planning ahead! I think that's one reason I love writing. When I'm writing, I'm SUPER focused and the whole outside world vanishes.

Sending good vibes to your foot!

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I hate my brain when it multitasks at night -- which it does a LOT.

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Me too!

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

I actually admire those who don’t live on the treadmill. Living life moment by moment requires much more patience, discipline and self awareness. I would also be curious if men multitask as much as women?

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Molly this 80 year man has just read your comment to his partner/wife of 50 years to which she has shouted ‘No. Never’ across the room. Did you hear that? Her voice can carry 3,000 miles when the wind is blowing in the right direction.🐰

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The authority speaks! Thank you Mrs. aka Kevin!

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I'm curious too, Tara! It sort of didn't surprise me that all three people who responded to my query were ladies.

This Harvard Biz Review research says Men and Women are equally bad at multitasking:

https://hbr.org/2018/09/research-women-and-men-are-equally-bad-at-multitasking

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I was very relieved that the tattoo artist does, when actually tattooing, focus on that task exclusively!

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LOL I was wondering through the whole interview, Mr. Walker, until she brought it up. Of course, I was disappointed that Ms. James doesn't try to tattoo while, say, cooking or driving. It would have been a lot more fun for the story.

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"Do you mind if I practice my Duolingo?"

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

This is so interesting because I feel like we saw the fetishization of productivity in the 2010's (girl boss, hustle culture, etc.) but now in the 2020's it's more about things like radical rest, intentionality, bed rotting. Seems like there's still people out there hanging onto these ideals of productivity (also, this article made me feel so lazy and maybe I need to step my own shit up???)

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It's true Molly, the pendulum keeps swinging! Maybe to sell more self-help books? I think this is a case where each person needs to figure out what works best for them.

Now I'm curious, is "bed rotting" a thing and not just a term employed by Ms. James?

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Now I have to look up bed rotting…😅

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

Yes it totally is! One of my favorite TikTok trends tbh https://www.self.com/story/bed-rotting-self-care

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Hooo boy! Here I go down the TikTok #bedrotting rabbit hole!...

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

would make a great antithetical follow up article to this one haha

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

If I can be so bold. I think those women think they are good at multitasking but I bet there’s a lot of half-assedness going on. And that’s fine. Im glad to hear that the tattoo artist doesn’t multitask while tattooing. I’m always multitasking because I’m easily bored but it’s one thing to listen to an audiobook while cleaning - I don’t consider that multitasking- and writing an email while in a meeting on a peloton and FaceTiming with a client walking down a nyc street. I knit while watching TV or in a meeting (helps me concentrate on what’s being said) but no music with words while writing.

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I agree Maryse there are some tasks that seems to actually compliment each other when you mush them together. Cleaning and listening to an audiobook is a great example. Neither seems to be enough on its own (unless you are a Zen master) but put together they become a real pleasure. Exercise plus music for sure. Eating and drinking with conversation also yes. And for some reason I don't think of these things as multitasking. Maybe multitasking is by nature putting together two activities that for most people, most of the time, distract from each other.

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

Another terrific read - both article and comments. I don’t think I’m prepared to analyse my own levels of multitasking - I just do what works. I’m not a perfectionist, but certain things need specific attention to be done at the level I expect. Overall, I’m pretty relaxed though. Lots of food for thought. Thanks so much.

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Great to hear that Beth. My guess is that someone like you who doesn't overthink the multitasking is probably getting the multitasking exactly right!

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

“Just looked up Brunello Cucinelli hoodies,” wrote reader Robert S. in Brooklyn. “I could maybe afford the replacement drawstring.” Robert S., you owe me a new keyboard. I spewed my fruit smoothie while reading your comment while icing my injured foot while doing laundry while listening to music while keeping an eye on my elderly husband while waiting for the dentist to call me back.

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Such talent, Laurie! I should have profiled you!

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

LOL LOL LOL

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I’m sorry about your keyboard, but I already blew this month’s allowance on the drawstring. In the meantime, may I suggest pairing your smoothie soaked keyboard with a Brunello Cucinelli suede mouse pad?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/275628694916?mkcid=16&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-127632-2357-0&ssspo=gL7fTcC9SaC&sssrc=4429486&ssuid=&var=&widget_ver=artemis&media=COPY

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$856.85, for those too lazy to click...

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Hey, I’m trying to sell a mouse pad here

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May 8Liked by Anne Kadet

Just when you think you've seen it all..........a suede mouse pad for big bucks....smh.......I do hope you're enjoying your drawstring. :-)

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

Thanks Anne, this is a superb way to examine our own relationship with multitasking. I can relate to the inability to do nothing as a cover up for some inner mess we’d rather neglect. Thankfully that’s behind me, as is social media. So I’m delighted to see myself in the middle of the spectrum — a serious multitasking nut job with serious boundaries on what gets my undivided attention. I must admit that I have a lot of impatience when it comes to doing one thing or no thing at all, which I’m guessing is the result of years spent on over-achieving as self-medicating 😂

(Also amazing and yet not surprising there are no men!)

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"A serious multitasking nut job with serious boundaries on what gets my undivided attention." Hey Maria, that's me too!

I imagine that the non-nut jobs out there don't need to set those strict boundaries in the first place.

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It's fitting that after a piece on fashion all the people you interviewed here look fashionable and stylish. I relate to getting focused on something to the point of missing lunch, though sometimes that something is a daydream.

Personally my main multitasking is talking while walking. Walks have never been refreshing or focusing to me. I don't get any of the supposed mental benefits people talk up unless I get to spend time watching an animal (seeing a turkey is always a highlight of the day). So I've turned my walks into my times to call family, which has led to me talking to extended family more, and I think that's an excellent development.

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Any day that includes a wild turkey is a good day for sure, Mr. Edwards. And happy to hear you're chatting with your extended family more.

I also love walking and talking on the phone, but it's hard in my neighborhood because I run into so many people I know and hate having to wave them off. And the problem of walking into traffic because I can't do two things at once is REAL.

When I'm walking and talking with a friend in person I can count on them to grab my arm and save my life, but when I'm on my own I've taken to walking and talking in the ally behind my apartment where I won't run into anyone or get hit by a car.

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May 8Liked by Anne Kadet

I used to multitask a LOT, but now that I’m retired I try to take my time and be present enjoying the moment. That is hard to do if I’m multitasking. Reading this kind of stressed me out, but I understand the need to get stuff done quickly. Just glad I don’t have to anymore!

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Glad those days are over for you, Debbie! Multitasking is a thrill for some, it seems but a exhausting for many of us.

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May 7Liked by Anne Kadet

i felt exhausted just reading this.

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You and everyone Emily, haha!

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May 7Liked by Anne Kadet

As a staunch one-task-human, I'm exhausted just reading this. Phew!

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A common refrain, Justin. Maybe I should have interviewed just one multitasker rather than three!

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Respect to the Multitasking Boss-Ladies that you interviewed. 🎈 But, that amount of activity would drive me bananas, I like to slow down and focus on one thing. Plus I have morning and evening quiet meditation. Different strokes for different folks. 🙏🏻

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Nick, I love that you coined a new term: "Multitasking Boss-Ladies"!

I have been on both sides, to the extreme. And I am much happier as a one-thing-at-time lady. But I totally understand the multitasking rush. Just like you said, different strokes...

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May 6Liked by Anne Kadet

A great column as always, Anne, but these women really scare me.

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Haha don't be scared, CL. They are all nice ladies. Just BUSY!

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Damn. As impressive as these ladies are, I can’t help feeling that much of what they said is pretty sad. That addiction to the high of accomplishment, and the second lady who said she floods her brain with self-help, affirmations and other fluff like that whenever she isn’t actually working…what kind of life is that?

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A life in progress, I'd say, Andrei! I know what you mean, but I do admire Ms. Alcocer's determination on all fronts. I've been there!

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Yeah, I guess there are many perspectives to everything! In any case, this was a very though-provoking post, to be sure. Thanks, Anne!

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