Those who know me are well acquainted with my, more or less successful, “art” of multi-tasking. If you are talking to me on the phone, chances are I will be also cooking, vacuuming (“What is that noise in the background?” is a common refrain), reading e-mails, feeding the dogs or whatever else, in my mind, needs attending right at that very moment. Can’t quite remember how I used to sit still before the invention of the cordless phone.
I added “more or less successful” because there are studies that indicate that when the brain is focussed on more than one activity at a time it becomes less productive and will lead you to more mistakes. Possibly but I live with the perpetual feeling at the back of my mind that I don’t have enough hours in a day and I must maximize every minute. And I really do want to talk to you while I do that.
Technology hasn’t helped my quest to be super efficient but it has simply added a layer of more things to do – check e-mails more than once a day, read instant news, scan blogs (and write blogs) – you know what I am referring to. And to keep all my tasks in check, both at work and at home, I still resort to that time-honored tool that is the List. In my case, a series of lists.
Let’s see. Aside from the shopping list that lives on the fridge to be grabbed every time I run out of something, there is the list of outstanding household chores, tagged in the laundry room; the list of phone calls to return next to the kitchen phone; a generic list of things to do or bills to pay sitting on my desk; the list of books I intend to read in my next two lifetimes in a little book of its own on the bookshelf; the list of places to visit, restaurants to check out, exhibitions I will possibly get to in a folder also on my desk; a list of potential blog topics on a notepad next to my computer and, finally, a list of recipes I might want to try if I run out of dinner ideas of my own. That is just home. I will spare you the work lists.
It has gotten so out of hand that I recently contemplated creating a master list for all my lists which I then discarded because it sounded ridiculous even to obsessively organized me. At least I don’t have a list of which sheets belong to which room like Martha Stewart does but, possibly, because I don’t have that many rooms to worry about. Still with me? What’s worse is that, despite the wealth of lists scattered around the house (oh, I forgot the notepad on the nightstand in case lightning or memory strike while I am in bed,) I still forget things. At times I mentally tell myself to add something or other to one of my lists which I then forget before I reach a pen.
I considered a notepad around my neck but I haven’t come across anything suitably fashionable that wouldn’t make me look like the crazy old bat I am clearly becoming. Suggestions are welcome. The alternative would be to live in blissful forgetfulness. If only I weren’t surrounded by people constantly asking “Have you done/seen/remembered/taken care of…”