Friday, July 15, 2011

Multi-tasking - Good or Evil?

I’ve been trained as I’m sure many of you have to be the consummate multi-tasker.  
For me it started in my teens doing homework while watching TV.  Then as a wife and mother, multi-tasking became a necessity and took on epic proportions.  But lately, much has been blogged about multi-tasking and writing.  Most contend it is not a good idea, to surf the internet, check emails, facebook, read and comment on blogs while sitting with your WIP (work in process) open.
And then, of course, multi-tasking and eating, is a big No No.  Many diet gurus expound on the virtues of focusing only on your food while eating.  I’ve heard, I should set the table with my best china, put flowers in a vase, soft, instrumental music in the background, and preferably eat alone.   
So my two current goals of being published and getting to my wedding weight do not seem to support multi-tasking. 
Instead, I should - Be present.  Be aware.  Concentrate on only one thing at a time.
Nice life if I was on vacation, or lived in a monastery. 
But I recently found Linda Spangle and her books.  
In 100 Days of Weight Loss she says,   
“You don’t have to completely avoid doing anything else in order to stay conscious around food.  But you do have to pay attention to your actions.”  
She goes on to say  “If you choose to eat while you’re watching movies or TV,  just don’t become oblivious to your food.  Instead, learn to divide your attention between the TV and your plate.”
She calls it awareness training.  
So if I can do this with food and eating, can it be done with my WIP and writing?
I think it can.  And when I analyzed what I was doing at the computer while attempting to work on my WIP,  what I found was surprising.  I would check my email, or look up a website, usually unrelated, when I was at a small stuck point in my writing.  My muse, my brain, my creativity needed a little percolating time.  Then I would go back to my WIP and continue to write until I would get stuck again.  I would percolate by checking blogs, commenting, and then go back to my WIP and writing.
Before, instead of computer searches, I use to get up and usually search for something to eat or drink to get unstuck.  Not good for the diet, or the writing.  So I realized I am actually being more productive and eating less as a result of staying in my chair, and at the computer. 
And as long as I don’t become oblivious to my WIP sitting open and waiting, I think I can safely divide my time between internet and writing, just like I can divide my attention between conversation with family and the food on my plate.
So I will continue to work on my awareness training because I don’t plan on checking into a monastery anytime soon.  
Feel free to weigh in.  Do you split your attention?  And if so, is it good or evil?


  1. Monastery food will I'm sure take off weight.

    I managed to lose fifty pounds, but am stalled. The WIP is doing better in adding words. Too back we can't lose the pounds and gain the words at the same time...

    Oh yeah, type faster and eat less.

  2. I don't think I would find time to write if I didn't split my attention. Given the choice, I would sit and write without interruption. Then again, taking a break from my WIP gives me a chance to digest what I've just written, and I often go back and make corrections. Multi-tasking is a gift I'm grateful for!

  3. Pepper, wow - 50lbs. Congratulations! I like how you think, add words, lose pounds, a woman after my own heart.

    Emily, letting your WIP digest, yes, just like taking breaks between bites of food, to let the food digest. And I agree, we are lucky to be able to do all this multi-tasking.

  4. If I didn't eat while watching TV, I'd never get a chance to watch my favorite TV shows ... which maybe wouldn't be a bad thing, but I've gotta have my dose of Fringe/Castle/Supernatural/Doctor Who/Big Bang Theory ...