As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I am absolutely useless at multitasking. Say what you want about gender stereotypes, but in this household they hold absolutely true. MrsH is a master at having a thousand things on the go at once and giving each of them the attention they deserve. I, on the other hand, completely fall to pieces if I have more than one thing to think about in any given day.
I have actually observed that MrsH’s skill is not actual multitasking per se. What she does is focus on the matter at hand and miraculously block out all other stimuli, and rapidly switch between matters at hand as the situation requires. It may be that that’s what multitasking really is in all those who can do it, but regardless, I’m constantly in awe of her skills. She can be so deeply engaged in a text conversation on her phone that the house could be literally burning down around her and she would be blissfully ignorant. This is an unbelievably useful skill to have when you have four children constantly after your attention, mostly simultaneously.
My brain couldn’t be further removed from this way of operating. I find myself shouting at the children multiple times a day because more than one of them is trying to talk to me at once, and as a result I can’t hear what either of them is saying. It’s all the more frustrating because usually what they’re saying is something along the lines of “Did you know that General Grievous had a big fight with Count Dooku” or “Can I tell you what my favourite YouTube channel is called” or something else so mind-numbingly dull that I’d have been much better off not trying to listen in the first place. At dinner time you will often find me staring at the ceiling with my fingers in my ears because I’m in so much discomfort from trying to split my attention between 5 different voices. It has made living in a house of 6 people quite a challenge, and seven years into the experiment, I don’t seem to have got any closer to working out any coping strategies.
And that is one of the things that worries me the most about my current situation. My problems with splitting my attention around the dinner table carry through to every aspect of my life, and may be one of the reasons I struggled with running a small business where every day I had to wear an awful lot of different hats (not literally, you understand. That would have been silly, although perhaps more fun.) But now every day is split between: (a) admin jobs relating to my former business; (b) talking to, meeting with and thinking about people with whom I have started having discussions about possible business opportunities; (c) trying to take some time to think about a proper direction and purpose for this new chapter of my life (never going to happen, I should just give up on that one now); (d) trying to get my eBay store up and running so I can flog off some old stuff and start earning even a little bit of money; (e) the school run; (f) the massive catalogue of after school clubs, classes and activities that seem to take up more time (and money) than anything else; (g) laundry. Massive bloody piles of laundry all day every day; (h) feeding my family. Massive bloody piles of food. All day, every day. Have I missed anything? Probably.
The point being that I have to start working out strategies to be able to switch my focus from task to task to task much in the manner of my dear wife. So far today, I have dropped the kids at school, come home to have breakfast, gone to a meeting at my old warehouse (about which I’m planning another post), come home and written a few emails, started up this blog (which I’m justifying to myself as productive because I’m dusting off my old and very rusty writing brain), gone to pick the kids up from school, come home and dealt with the phone calls and emails that I posted about earlier, gone to pick up son number 1 from his cello lesson, come home and dealt with a pile of laundry, and here we are at 6:30pm with nothing really to show for it.
It also occurs to me that, slightly worryingly, my most productive time of day is in the afternoon. Once my lunch has gone down, that’s when my brain is most in gear and able to plough through my workload. That’s a bit of a problem when you’re a school run dad, because come 2:45 every afternoon, everything has to stop, which gives me roughly an hour of being productive. Hmmm. And as evidenced by my earlier post, any attempt at carrying on working once the kids are home tends to be, how should I put it, somewhat staccato.
So to anyone who’s waiting for an email from me, or a form to be filled out, or a letter to be posted, I’m sorry. I’m working on it.