When anyone expects me to listen to them and do something on the computer, I always point out that I do not multitask. I cannot listen and do. You decide which one is most important to you, but if I am typing I will either not take in what you are telling me or, if I am listening, then I will make mistakes on the computer.

As an aside, I am sure that you will already have realised that the word listen has the same letters as the word silent. I must admit that I had not really thought of that before, so maybe when listening we should be quiet so that we can really grasp what is being told to us. Does this go along with the idea that as we have two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak. All very interesting and catchy phrases but I wonder what psychology is behind all of this. I am not about to comment but it does make you wonder.

I came across a definition of multitasking a few days ago. It said that multitasking is the ability to listen, ignore and forget all at the same time. I think that probably sums up my multitasking ability anyway.

When you think about multitasking you think about someone continuously doing a number of tasks all at the same time. Is it not more akin to spinning plates. You spin one and then you get a moment when you can get another one spinning. You may be able to do a third before you have to go back to the first, to give it another spin. So, not actually doing multiple tasks but doing a small part of each in turn, which makes it appear that you can multi-task. But is this the most efficient way of working?

From this you may be thinking that I don’t think that there is such a thing as effective multitasking. The answer is that I just don’t know. I know it does not work for me but does it work for you.

Are musicians a breed apart in that they have learned to perform different tasks with each hand and can maybe manage vocals on top. If so, then I am very jealous. Although similar, I don’t think that actors are quite in the same league, but you may not agree. My son is a drummer and many years ago I was speaking to a professional drummer, and he was trying to teach me some basics by getting me to tap out a different rhythm with each hand simultaneously. I failed, but maybe with practice and perseverance I would have managed it. Does that mean that multitasking is a skill that I just have not leaned yet. Times running out!

I recently watched the new video from the rising highland band Algorithm. That’s the one with Andrew (your office designed and delivered) Still from James Dow Office Supplies in Inverness, on guitar. There’s also Amy Mullen (Stage Coach and Fitkidz Academy) who seems well cast in her role in the video as well as supplying vocals. A bit of a diva. There are a few others, but I don’t know them. Anyway, none of the band have given up their day jobs, but they do seem to be having a lot of fun. The video is probably worth a look.

We made some videos a few years ago to help our marketing. Filmed on a mobile phone and with myself as lead actor, we also had a lot of fun. We used the Travis Perkins yard in Inverness, after everyone had gone home and our office in Inverness. No expense spared! I think it got us more exposure at the time so maybe we should do one again. I really must try to find the smoke machine that we lost.

I cannot speak and work at the same time but I am aware that women seem to be able to do this and still be working very effectively. So, maybe my perspective on multitasking is coloured by my own inability to multitask.

Maybe all women can multitask perfectly well, in which case my earlier comments are all directed at men. Perhaps it also depends on the nature of the tasks you are trying to perform as some will consume more brain capacity than others.

At the end of the day it all boils down to the fact that you know what you need to get done and which tasks need to be fulfilled by a certain time. I invariably have a list of things to get done. My approach is to ask myself which one is the single most important task that I should be performing at that very moment of time. I can then strike that one off my list. We all need to find what works for us. Either you focus on one job at a time or, if you are able, you multitask.

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Alan E Long

The Long Partnership

07770 738770



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