Author of ‘I Love Mondays’ Says No More Multi-tasking

I’ve been carrying around the new book I Love Mondays because it rings so true. Author Michelle Cove gets the plight of the working mom. We want to be there for our children, but we also want to do well at our jobs. (I’m with Michelle, I love Mondays! And sometimes I do feel a little guilty about it.) Filled with solid research and helpful tips, Michelle helps moms stop the cycle of constant apologies and start owning our accomplishments at home and work. Check out the book, and check out what Michelle wrote about trying to do several things at once: No more multi-tasking should be our new motto.

I am sitting in front of my computer writing this guest blog and trying to focus… FOCUS! Here’s the problem: I forgot to make a reservation for my mom’s birthday tomorrow and must find somewhere last minute; I was planning to chaperone my daughter’s class trip to the Plymouth Plantation this month but remembered I’m expected at a board meeting; I have two articles due this week that I haven’t started (because my brain is percolating …yeah, that’s it), and I have zero time to bring my ill cat to the vet to have his blood-work rechecked. If you saw my to-do list for this week, you’d laugh—and then show me yours, which is equally ridiculous.

Some might say I have to get better at multitasking. But I can’t do it; believe me, I’ve tried. And I know there are countless working moms who feel the same because I spent months talking to them about their biggest hurdles when it comes to juggling career and family for my book I Love Mondays:  And Other Confessions from Devoted Working Moms. It’s not just that trying to get several tasks handled simultaneously leaves us feeling frazzled. It’s that we worry something is wrong with us because media experts insist that “Women are natural-born multitaskers.” Just a few examples: This was the exact lead-in sentence of a 2011 CNBC article called “Careers and Sexes: Are men better than women at social networking?”; stated in a 2011 Huffington Post piece called “What Men and Women Really Want in Love (and how to get it), and mentioned in a Redbook.com article called “Sex-Life Road Test.” Seeing this assumption over and over seems to make it true—and leaves us thinking, “Oh, great, it’s supposed to come naturally?”

To set the record straight, the claim that women are multitaskers by nature is not supported by most scientific evidence. Perhaps more importantly, some research shows that even if we could do it well, it may not be the best route. For instance, Russell Poldrack, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, states: “We’re really built to focus. And when we sort of force ourselves to multitask, we’re driving ourselves to perhaps be less efficient in the long run even though it sometimes feels like we’re being more efficient.”

So instead of beating ourselves up, let’s try to remember that it’s more efficient to focus on one task at a time. Let’s also stop fixating on what we didn’t get done for the day, and celebrate the few items we did succeed in crossing off. I’ll be celebrating with take-out tonight because I forgot to defrost the chicken I was planning to cook when the vet telephoned.

Michelle Cove is the filmmaker behind the award-winning documentary Seeking Happily Ever After, distributed in 2010 by Lionsgate, and author of Seeking Happily Ever After: How to navigate the ups and downs of being single without losing your mind. She is also the editor of 614, an online magazine for young Jewish women, and the co-author of the national bestseller I’m Not Mad, I Just Hate You!: a new understanding of mother-daughter conflict.

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  1. by Jennifer Dorr

    On November 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I believe there is a bunch of research that shows nobody is at their smartest when they are multitasking. I am an at home mom who is starting to take on more and I find myself staying up late so I canthink without interruption.