I put multi-tasking on hold

Tomorrow is Friday, and the plumber is scheduled to come.

As my regular readers know, we experienced a plumbing event in our household this past Tuesday. Apparently, we are not alone as our regular plumber did not have an opening in his schedule for three days, and while I am looking forward to having our plumbing problem repaired, I have also found that I have learned an unexpected lesson.

It is generally known, if not fully accepted as truth, that multi-tasking is not the best way to get stuff done. In fact, some scientists think the term “multi-tasking” is misleading as our brains don’t really perform multiple tasks at once, rather our brains switch back and forth between whatever our hot-burner and not-quite-as-hot burner tasks may be.

Russell A. Poldrak, has done a lot of work studying what happens in the brain when we “multi-task” and has found that it has a profound and adverse effect on our ability to learn.

So what does all of this have to do with the plumbing event of this past Tuesday?

I had to turn the water off for the entire house, which greatly curtailed my daily activities. I don’t have to “decide” if I will do a load of laundry while I work on a project, so I just work on the project.

Cooking is similarly simplified as there is no option for elaborate preparation and extensive clean up. This in turn greatly limits the options and reduces the time I spend in the kitchen.

So what have I done with this expanse of time that has opened up?

In 2010, I entered this crocheted version of a Hilbert Curve in the North Carolina State Fair:

crochet squares, crochetbug, crochet circles, Hilbert curve, stripes, cats, crochet blanket, crochet afghan, crochet throw
A Hilbert Curve in crochet

and as of Tuesday, I still had the bag of yarn scraps the project had generated:

crochetbug, yarn scraps, scrap yarn, use what you have, magic yarn ball
My bag of yarn scraps before

In addition to the usual retinue of colors that are an intrinsic part of much of my crochet, this project also generated a lot of off-white yarn scraps; I decided to make a scrap ball of yarn that alternated a strand of color with a strand of the off-white. Eventually, I was able to bring most of the scraps to order:

crochetbug, yarn scraps, scrap yarn, use what you have, magic yarn ball
My bag of yarn scraps after

With the formerly languishing scraps finally dealt with, I returned to my work on the old-fashioned throw rug made from sari ribbon. I added one new round:

crochetbug, fabric strips, sari strips, crochet rag rug
I make more progress on my sari-ribbon rug

and then another:

crochetbug, fabric strips, sari strips, crochet rag rug
and I make even more progress on my sari-ribbon rug

While I know I will be delighted to have the water back on once the repairs are made, I hope that the lessons I have learned this past week stay with me as I move forward into the summer.

Maybe, just maybe, I will succeed in putting multi-tasking on hold permanently.

2 thoughts on “I put multi-tasking on hold

  1. Your reflections on multi-tasking are very interesting. I say that as someone who seems to spend most of her time multi-tasking. And the risk must be that no one thing enjoys one’s complete and undivided attention. Probably not too serious in a number of trivial routine tasks but I guess it’s a habit that creeps in when the tasks are not so routine and the impact of less than complete attention more far-reaching. I do love the way you calmly refer to what in my house would be a major crisis as a “plumbing event” and so matter of factly assess the implications on domestic possibilities and turn your attention to constructive creativity! Your disciplined detachment is so much more sensible than my instinctive flapping and panicking which is what i tend to exhibit on such occasions! I do hope your plumber comes today and fixes everything. Not to interrupt your crochet progress but for general peace of mind! Have a good crochet and plumber-peopled day! E x

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