Just call it semitasking

I've never been good at multitasking. It does take me a long time to get back to a task once interrupted. Now, of course, part of that is that I interrupt myself, and I interrupt myself when I don't really feel like doing what I'm doing.

Still, multitasking is part of our world, and no matter what strictures there are against it, everyone somehow feels like a warrior defeating three different opponents wielding different weapons when they deal with multiple tasks at once.

In reality, of course, one of those warriors would inevitably kill you, even if you were individually stronger and more adept than any one of them. So it is with the tasks we face. We'd be well advised to knock them off one at a time, and avoid challenging any other opponents until the blood of each earlier one is soaking the ground.

This was brought to mind via Kevin Drum, referring to a recent NYT story, Monotasking Gets a Makeover. Its message is simple: task switching is mentally expensive. It takes time and energy to do it.

We all know this, really. We know we should stop. Yet we still do it.

Part of recovering from this would be to rename the process. Multitasking does sound admirable, calling to mind busy parents also running a small business and keeping the house fabulous. That's dumb. It's not a place you want to be.

So I suggest a more accurate, but duller sounding term for it: call it semitasking. Try boasting to someone, "I'm really good at semitasking". You're really saying "I never use more than one cheek on any job!" The less pleased you feel with yourself for doing it, the more likely you are to avoid it.

Now, I should get back to what I was working on....