There is no Such thing as Multitasking

The other night, my husband made the comment that he sucks at multitasking. I felt compelled to remind him that there ain’t no such animal. It’s a fallacy.

The idea that it is possible has been perpetuated by moms (the epitome of the attempt) all over the world. Women claim they are better at it than men. Men aspire to it. Employers laud it. But it’s a hopeless endeavor.

Studies have been done. Lots of studies. And they all say the same thing.

The human brain, whether male or female, can only do one thing at a time. Yes, it can switch between tasks, and it can do that very, very rapidly. But it can still only do one thing at a time.

And that’s not a bad thing no matter what your boss or your mom or your instructor might tell you. Most people agree that focus is a good thing. Concentration is a good thing too. Patently, “multitasking” is the antithesis of those things.

Research indicates that multitaskers are actually less likely to be productive, yet they feel more emotionally satisfied with their work, thus creating an illusion of productivity.

Research also shows that multitasking, i.e. trying to do two cognitive things at the same time, simply can’t be done. The mind doesn’t work that way. Even trying to parallel path a cognitive activity (let’s say adding a column of numbers in your head) and a more automatic activity (like brushing your teeth) doesn’t really work. More often than not, you would just end up counting the strokes on your teeth and if by some chance you managed to work your way to the end of the column of numbers, it’s very unlikely that you would end up with the correct sum. And that’s why the National Transportation Safety Board reports that texting while driving is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.

Switching between tasks, despite how fast it occurs, is incredibly unproductive in reality. In fact, research (yes, I’m using that word a lot) indicates up to 40 percent of productivity could be lost due to task-switching. It actually takes more time to complete the tasks you’re switching between and you make more errors than when you focus on doing one task at a time in order.

The reason is that every time you switch to a new task and then go back to the former task, you spend a certain amount of time refreshing your memory about where you were with that previous task and reminding yourself where you need to go with it. And if the first task was really complicated, there’s a good chance that you will have to start completely from scratch. I’ve experienced this.

Studies (see, I can use a different word) have shown that it takes four times longer for the brain to recognize new things (further slowing down task completion) and that we have a much lower retention rate of what we learn while we are multitasking.

But, the brain craves new things. The brain gets a dopamine jolt from new things. So, in reality, our brains are set up to crave a situation where we have a couple different things going at the same time.

I feel this, myself, from time to time when I am working on a crochet project. There comes a point where I just want to finish and move on to the next one … or heaven forbid … start the next one concurrent with one I’m already working. Mostly, I succeed at working on the one project to completion. But not always. And I know for certain I make more errors because of it. You’d think that all the times I’ve had to pull something apart and do it over correctly would have taught me something. Well, maybe it has.

My husband has a job where he is likely to be interrupted just about all the time. He’d really like to focus on one thing and finish it before moving onto the next, but the job just isn’t set up that way and is not likely to ever be set up that way. It’s the nature of customer service oriented businesses. So even though his job is medical and has discrete appointments, it still works out that he has to switch tasks constantly throughout his day. Contrary to the claims of some of the studies conducted, this does not create for him a feeling of satisfaction and productivity. Rather, it makes him feel as if he can’t ever get anything done.

The next time you try to do more than one thing at a time, I’m pretty sure that it will likely take you longer than had you done them sequentially. And there is a good chance that one or both of the tasks will end up botched.

But because of the basic nature of the human animal, I’m also pretty sure that people will keep trying to multitask.

So, while you are out there trying to juggle ten balls at the same time, keep in mind that there is a good chance they will all come crashing down around you … because … there is no such thing as multitasking.

Ordinary man

Bernd takes me for walks in the snow because he knows how much I love doing that

It’s the title of a song by The Doobie Brothers. It might be the title of other things as well. But it was listening to The Doobie Brothers’ song that got me to thinking.

It created a feeling in me that is hard to describe. It was a mixture of joy (for having such a wonderful man in my life) and remorse (for all the strife I have put him through) and love (for the guy who has stood steadfastly by me for the last 51 years) and I don’t know what else. It was a very complex feeling.

Sometimes we married women expect a lot of our husbands. Sometimes we feel that they can do anything … that they should be able to do anything. Well, I do anyway. I’d be willing to bet others do too.

But the truth is, our men are muddling through this life just like we are. Doing the best they can. They don’t always know what they are doing either.

I watch him struggle with a decision. I watch him as he figures out what to do with a light fixture that doesn’t have a ground. I watch him mow the lawn with single-minded purpose. I see how his tongue flicks out of his mouth now and then when he is eating something he finds particularly yummy. I have anxiety for him when he braves getting high up on a ladder to take down the shutters that I want to paint … and then put them back once I’ve painted them. I watch him overcome all his fears so that I can have what I want in any number of ways.

I love my husband for trying to be extraordinary sometimes. But I love him most for his ordinariness.

The shutters above the garage (one set over each garage door) required a lot of bravery from Bernd. But he got it done with me holding the ladder for emotional support. 🙂
A man willing to do anything just to place a smile on your face is one  worth keeping. #realman #relationship #quotes | Lovers quotes, Love quotes  for her, Quotes
from pinterest I love this quote. Bernd can act a silly fool sometimes just to see me smile. He doesn’t care if he looks silly.

Love is Funny

We all talk about love all the time. It seems like our culture is obsessed with it. There is true love. There is one love. There is love for all mankind. And love for all living things, to name a few. The Doobie Brothers sang about “Real Love” and being “Here to Love You.”

There is a saying that more things are done for love than for money.

Everyone wants to love and be loved. Well, mostly everyone. We pretty much agree that to be loved and to love is a desirable thing.

But ask a hundred different people what love is and you will get a hundred different answers. Ask the same person that question a month later and you’ll probably get another different answer. It’s a hard concept to pin down.

Maybe someone you asked the question of what is love will talk about true love or that once in a lifetime love. Maybe someone will bring up soul mates and finding that one perfect person you were always meant to be with. And chances are that a few people won’t even agree with themselves about what love is, what constitutes it, how it is ideally expressed, etc. You’ll catch them in a contradiction. For example, love should never be conditional/I love him because he makes me laugh. That sort of thing.

Personally, I think all the songs and poems and cute little sayings printed on weathered pieces of wood is all just a lot of romanticism, greeting card mumbo jumbo, and people who are happy in their relationships making up crap that seems sometimes to be designed to create grief for those who are not happy in their relationships.

I’m very happy in my relationship with my husband. We’ve been married for almost 46 years and together for almost 51 years. I don’t know that it is actually possible to quantify such things, but it seems to me that I love him more now than I did all those years ago. But being in love doesn’t really make a person an expert on love. Regardless, I will just keep writing about this.

No one likes to feel lonely, but being in a committed relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that loneliness will never be an issue. And sometimes people think that if they can find that one true love it will solve all their problems … financial, loneliness, security. It’s like love is the antidote for everything.

But what if there is no such thing as true love, one love, perfect love, soul mates and all that other gibberish? What if it isn’t the antidote for everything? What then?

Not to worry. I think I have the answer.

Love isn’t magic. There is no wand or potion. There is no recipe for putting together the right ingredients in just the right way at all the right times and then … voila! … you have love.

Simply, we are made for love. It’s built into us. We can’t help ourselves. It’s what we do.

Not everyone feels compelled to have a non-human animal in their lives, but for those that do, consider this. Did that person set out to find the absolutely most perfect “pet” on which to lavish their love? The dog, cat or whatever that will complete their lives and make everything so very much better. Well, maybe some do and I feel sorry for those sorts. They are probably missing out on a whole lot of opportunities by being way too picky.

Anyway, probably most people don’t do that. Maybe you saw a dog wandering down the middle of a busy street and stopped to help her. She hops readily into your car and you take her home where you spend the next three weeks trying to find her owner only to realize at the end of those three weeks that you don’t really want to give her up. You’ve fallen in love with her.

Or you go to an animal shelter and look at all the bunnies and hamsters and cats and dogs and you see one that grabs your attention more than the others and so it goes home with you. Maybe you said to the person at the shelter that if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be bringing that dog or cat or bunny or hamster back. But after just two or three days, you find you love that little critter so much that the thought of taking it back never even occurs to you despite the fact that it ate your favorite shoes (the dog), or peed on your bed (the cat), or chewed through the electrical cord of your favorite lamp (the bunny), or put its sharp little teeth right through your thumb (the hamster).

So why is that? Because we can’t help but feel love. Spend a little time with someone (human or non-human), get to know them and you start to love them. Or maybe you really start to hate them. But I believe that is far less likely. We are built for love more than for hate. After all, love feels good. Hate, not so much.

I’m sure that down through the ages there have been arranged marriages that just never worked out. But I’d be willing to be that the majority of them have and that the partners learned to feel real love for each other. Maybe it took a while, maybe it didn’t. But love happened.

Funny is an interesting word. It can mean humorous or odd. It’s also defined as something that is difficult to explain and understand. Or it can mean that something is a little bit off.

I think love is funny in all senses of the word. I also think it is inescapable.

A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.

-author unknown-

How to Get What You Want … Think Like a Dog

Hungry dog in front of an empty dog bowl - a Royalty Free Stock Photo from  Photocase

Dog, cats, horses. Any creatures that live with us humans for any length of time eventually learn how to push our buttons. Make no mistake, they are manipulative and they know what they are doing. But this isn’t the primary way they get what they want. Because, let’s face it, humans can be obstinate and we don’t necessarily like to be manipulated.

I’ve lived with several different kinds of birds, two kinds of hamsters, mice we caught in our basement, guinea pigs, dogs, cats and horses. I’ve also had fish and lizards, but those are much harder to relate to. Especially the fish.

They all have two things in common: (1) at any given moment, they know exactly what they want, and (2) they ask for it. Plain and simple. Just because I may not have the capacity to understand what a fish or a lizard wants doesn’t mean they don’t know what they want and doesn’t mean they aren’t asking for it.

Sometimes the asking is amusing or charming. Sometimes it’s annoying. Usually it’s effective.

My horse always knew when I had a couple pieces of carrot or a cookie in my pocket. She’d put her nose right on my pocket. If I ignored her, she’d do it again. If I continued to ignore her, she would bump me with her nose. If she still didn’t get the treat, she’d bump me harder. But she never bit at my pocket as some horses might do because she’d learned that if she did that, I’d walk away. No treat.

Eventually, she’d get the treat and so I reinforced the behavior. Some things just can’t be helped. Nobody wants a pushy horse. They’re way too big to let them get away with much. So I kept some boundaries. Really I did.

Our dog, Maddie, is a whiz at getting what she wants. She’s a really good little communicator.

To get my attention, she bumps my calf or shin (she is very short) with her nose. If I ignore her, she’ll bump me again a little harder. If I continue to ignore her (which gets really hard sometimes), she’ll clap her jaws together several times very rapidly. It makes a very distinctive sound.  If that doesn’t do the trick, she brings out the big guns and growls (it’s a cute little growl, only half serious). But she rarely barks because she’s learned that we don’t really want her to bark and I am likely to just walk away if she barks.

She doesn’t always want a treat … really. Sometimes she wants to play and all I have to do is look at one of her toys and then we are going at it.

So how do we, as humans, get what we want? Do as they do. First, know what it is that you want. Don’t be wishy-washy about. Don’t be general. Be specific. Secondly, ask for it. And keep asking for it until you get it. Don’t give up, but ask appropriately to the situation.

If you can create a perception of need and if the need is genuine and you’ve asked nicely, chances are good that you will get exactly what you want.

What is Real

Some few days ago, I was sitting in my recliner and staring out the nook window at the sky. It was full of sunsetting colors. Blues and greys, and greens and yellows, and pinks of all kinds. It was very pretty.

But I was overcome with an odd feeling. I wondered if it were all real. It looked like a painting or a picture just the other side of the window.

I told myself that I’ve been out in the world and it’s a real place. But even so, a part of me wondered and I asked myself, “What if it’s not real?”

Has the world always only been real because we think it is real?

What if none of this is real? Would it really matter?

I’ve written elsewhere that the answer to the question “What is real?” is that everything is real … as long as we think it is so. Still, the feeling I had was a strong one and seemed to be telling me otherwise. That it didn’t matter how real I thought it was. It felt like it was not.

Luckily the feeling didn’t last long and I was able to just enjoy a particularly colorful and splendid sunset.

And anyway, if this is all in my mind then I’m a pretty darn creative person. So I guess real or not, it’s okay.

Quotes about Real and unreal (64 quotes)

The Long Wait

When you are young, every wait is long. Every trip in the car is endless. Christmas never comes soon enough. Life drags along at a snail’s pace and never seems to go anywhere.

As you get older, time seems to speed up. A semester is gone in the blink of an eye. Summer break is never long enough. Before you know it, your parents expect you to move out, get a job, and be self-sufficient.

As you get older still, you wonder if you will have enough time to do all the things you want to do. See all the things you want to see. When a month flies by like a week once did, you begin to wonder many things.

How long will I live? Will I be healthy or frail? Did I do enough for others? Did I do enough for me?

But the reality is this:  life is short and no wait is every really that long. It’s true at every age and a shame it takes so long to realize this.

Top 10 Waiting Quotes - BrainyQuote


There are three kinds of people. Well, arguably, there are many more than three kinds of people. But when you are talking about startling someone, basically, there are just three kinds.

The first kind will fall all over themselves to get away from what has just startled them. I’ve seen it again and again. Someone goes “boo” and the person literal falls backward on the floor. Or turns and runs as fast and as far as they can. Which is often not far because there are walls and doors and chairs and things in the way that the person knows about, but in the heat of the moment has forgotten about.

This kind of person makes up the majority.

The second kind will lash out. It’s instinctive. Something threatens you and you deal with that threat. I’ve seen this too. Often it means that the person who goes “boo” gets punched in the face or the gut or the throat. None of which is good.

Usually the person doing the punching is remorseful, but not always. It’s understandable. No one likes to be startled.

That kind of person is less common.

The third kind of person is the least common. This kind will not react at all. They won’t fall down trying to get away and they won’t punch you either. It’s not that they’re stupid. Or slow. No. It’s the opposite. They are smart and quick and say to themselves, “Nothing to get my panties in a bunch about. Just someone trying to have a little fun at my expense.”

For the prankster who goes “boo,” this is the least satisfying sort of person. The kind that falls down is a validation of sorts, “Yeah, I scared the crap out of that person.” Even the kind that strikes out is a reward because the prankster got a reaction, albeit a painful one.  But the third kind gives nothing at all to the prankster and quite possibly makes the prankster feel a little bit silly.

I’ve never enjoyed being startled. I don’t consider pranks of this kind to be funny or amusing. Actually, I think they are a bit cruel.

So when I witness a person falling down in response to being startled, I’m sad. When I see the prankster get punched as a result, I think well, yeah, they probably deserved that. But when I see someone not react at all, I think, yup, there’s a person I’d like to know.

So, which kind are you?

How to Know When Enough is Enough and when Enough is Too Much

There's a Big Difference Between Giving Up and Knowing When Enough Is Enough  POSITIVE There's a Big Difference Between Giving Up and Knowing When Enough  Is Enough Positiveenergyplus | Meme on ME.ME

I’m not talking about the Pandemic or the brouhaha over health care reform and other large things. Because, let’s face it, the big things are usually self-limiting. The Pandemic can only go on for so long. And they’re probably never really going to reform health care.

I’m talking about the little things we have to deal with on a daily basis in our very personal lives. The pebbles, rocks and boulders that line our path and hurt our figurative feet or make us stumble; the things we have to make big detours around. You know, your hours at work are cut back (ouch!), your girlfriend dumps you (okay, pick yourself up and move on), your car breaks down (man, that is so not what I wanted to spend that money on right now); those sorts of things. If you find yourself feeling frazzled and at the end of your rope and you don’t really know the cause, the following reasons might be why.

Meeting Expectations

Everyone has expectations. You have them. Your boss has them. Your significant other has them.  We should do away with expectations.

Basically, an expectation is a prediction about the future. Your boss expects you to make X number of sales or bring in X number of dollars per sale. But you can’t make people spend money they don’t have or sell something to non-existent customers, so you don’t meet his/her expectations. Grief results. Your girlfriend expects you to remember the day you two met and exactly what she was wearing. You can’t and grief results.

We cannot truly predict the future and our best efforts often go for naught. The best thing would be to inhabit the NOW and not try to predict the future or dictate behavior (our own or others) based on expectations. My mom used to say, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” It can be a good philosophy.

This is also true for the example I gave above of the car that breaks down necessitating that money saved for a trip (for example) be spent to fix the car instead. By remaining open and adaptable to life’s twist and turns, you can eliminate a lot of the stress. Once, I had the notion that I would be able to spend the entire day with a friend, doing together the things we both loved to do. She had a change of plan and so I changed mine. There was a very brief moment (I’m so not perfect) of disappointment, but I went on to have a very nice day on my own. Understand that I think it is fine to make plans. Plans are different from expectations and without plans nothing would get done. Do accept, though, that they may change.

So if unrealistic demands are being made of you and your resources (either by you or an outside source), look at the situation as dispassionately as you can and ask yourself this question: how is that working for you? If is isn’t working, sit down and realistically look at what needs to change so that enough does not become too much. It can be painful and difficult sometimes to make changes, but continuing in a dysfunctional situation is not healthy in the long run.

Perfection at its Worst

Nothing is or ever can be perfect … except for, as some would say, God’s Love. Give up looking for the perfect anything. Looking for perfection in anything is just too much to ask.

This isn’t a sad thing really. It doesn’t mean that you need to “settle” for something undesirable. It’s just that maybe your ideal picture of the way things should be might not be reasonable. Hearkens back to expectations, I know. Personally, I believe expectations are the biggest impediment to happiness, but I’m breaking it down a little further. And anyway, stopping after those first few paragraphs just isn’t like me. I tend to beat things to death.

Two other girlfriends and I were sitting having a chat one day. Of the three of us, two were married and one was not. The unmarried friend was lamenting her status. This was many years ago at a time when a woman still needed to be married … for whatever reason. I’m dating myself and this was truer for my mother’s generation than mine … still. Both I and the other married woman answered at the same time in the same way when the unmarried woman asked why she couldn’t find a guy with, “Don’t be so picky.”  Her reply was, “But …” In all the time we kept in touch, she never found a guy that measured up.

Waiting for the perfect guy, the perfect moment, the perfect job or the perfect anything is just going to keep you waiting.

Security is a Myth

And the sooner you get down with that notion, the happier you will be. All of the frazzle over income, jobs, health, relationships, et cetera will just drop away. Okay, maybe not all, but it will help.

I’m a mostly rehabilitated security freak. I could never save enough money. I worried about my health and my husband’s. I was miserable most of the time living in the future of “what if.” Preparation and planning is one thing. Emotionally investing them with the ability to protect you from harm is another thing altogether. Stuff just happens despite our desires or plans. Learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and life will be much more peaceful. I’m working on it.

You can work out, eat right, get plenty of sleep and still develop a serious illness. You can have a million dollars in the bank and think you are set for the rest of your life and die in a car accident tomorrow (well, I guess that then you were, technically, set for life; maybe I need a better example).

Do you get the connection here? It’s not so much outside forces that are the problem. You know, a driver cuts you off in traffic or your mother-in-law tells you that you’re a terrible mother. There will always be outside forces. No, it’s how you react to the external situations of your life that matters most.

So, how do you know when enough is enough? It’s pretty simple really and you probably already know the answer. It’s when you find yourself saying that you don’t think you can take anymore. If you find yourself saying that if one more stupid thing happens, that will be it, then you’ve had enough. When is enough too much? It’s when things have gone so far that you can’t seem to see a way out of it. That’s when you need to make a change. I believe that at that point, taking a look at your expectations about your life will help tremendously. It has for me.

25+ Best Enough Is Enough Memes | Share if You Agree Memes, a Good Memes,  the Memes


Treasurers urged to head to the cloud | Treasury Today

One key to creating a better life is to choose what you want to feel, and for how long you want to feel it.

This means taking responsibility for what you feel. No more “He made me so mad” or “Don’t make me regret this.”

The first time someone explained this to me was a revelation. I’ve forgotten this many times over the years and, thankfully, come back to it many times.

I find that as I’ve become older, it’s become clearer and easier to remember and implement. And the thing that impressed me most the first time was this realization … why on earth would you want to give someone else that much power over you and your emotions?

Being fully responsible for everything you feel isn’t an easy task. But it is well worth it in terms of control and contentment. And let’s face it, the more you perceive you have control over your life, the happier you will be.

The Path Forward

Penny and m at the end of a fairly grueling trail challenge competition

This is not about the Pandemic (with a capital “p” because it’s been so significant in just about everyone’s life for the last year or so).

I’ve been mired in the past the last few weeks. I’ve dreamed of horses and wished they were still in my life.

It has made me sad and forced me to think about what it takes to move forward and let go of the past.

People are always telling other people to just let go. It’s not that easy.

When my dad died, it was the first major loss in my life. I was a few days shy of 17 years old and it changed my life forever. Sometimes I revisit the day he died. It’s been years now since that has made me cry. But the important thing here is this: I’ve never let it go. I’ve also never let go of the death of my mother.

So does that mean I am stuck in that past? Speaking from the inside of me (after all, I’m not really qualified to speak from the outside of me), I’d have to say that no, I am not stuck in that past even though it might look like it from the outside.

But there have been days recently when I fervently wished I could let go of horses and just move on. Sometimes the pain of giving up being with horses is almost too great to tolerate.

Who knows? Maybe ten years down the road I will look back on this day and the last couple of weeks and realize that I have actually moved forward. Perhaps I will have just put horses beside me instead of behind me and they are moving forward along with me. Slightly out of step, but there nonetheless.

Maybe that’s how it always is. Maybe there is no real letting go. Maybe the true path forward is to carry all the things that have meaning for you right along with you. Maybe the pain of loss is the thing that reminds you that you once had something really good.

And maybe having known something good in the past is the thing that lets us hope for more good in the future.

Penny and me shortly after I first got her. She was 17 years old and hadn’t done any real work in quite a few years. But she was well-trained and smart and it didn’t take me long to get her back in shape. We had some really great times together.