USA Today Best of 2012

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Unitasking- gift or disability?

I've sometimes envied certain people (for convenience, we'll just call them "men") for their ability to focus on a single job, and tune out all else. Conversely, I've watched men miss all the key bits of a conversation going on around them while doing something which I didn't think should require 100% attention.

So I wonder: Is unitasking (opposite of multi-tasking, defined by my 9-year-old daughter to my brother and his fiancee as "when a lady can do more than one thing at once, like driving down the road and hitting her kids in the backseat without having to pull over") a useful skill, or a detriment? While out walking one day this week, I had to shake my head at a neighbor guy, who was out cleaning his truck when I began my walk, and was still out cleaning his truck when I returned an hour later. Meanwhile, his wife was inside and had probably started dinner, washed a couple loads of clothes, loaded the dishwasher, sorted some mail... you get the picture. So then I came home and started my own dinner. Got the charcoal started, checked the hot tub, realized it had been leaking and needed either drained or refilled, searched out the pump and cord so I could drain it, all the while minding the grill (this worked out marvelously since they were both outside jobs). By the time I was ready to put the steaks on, I'd finished with the tub. So I went inside and began my twice-baked potatoes. All was going well until I got involved with clearing off the counter and cleaning the stove top, and kept forgetting to check the flames... at which point I realized this is why dudes are good at grilling--they go stand there and do nothing but watch the dang food cook! If they need a plate or the seasoning salt or a beer, they yell for somebody to bring it out. And yes, that gets annoying to the person inside preparing all the side dishes, cleaning the kitchen, helping the kids with homework... but some jobs kinda need devoted attention that way.

It's good to get several things done at once. But I can see how this skill has evolved in our men--consider Caveman Kreg, out hunting bison. He needs to focus on the hunt, not be worrying about the pile of skins at home that need washed, or whether the medicine woman should have a look at the baby and check out her cough. He can't be thinking about firewood now--he might be killed! So... do you think the dudes developed that one-mindedness out of necessity, or did they gradually become the hunter-folk because of that focus?

Either way, sometimes we'll all still feel like whacking our men upside the heads with clubs when they're watching TV and don't notice us asking them a question. I have to confess, though, I'd love to be able to tune out everybody and forget about all my worries, and just write. Even just an hour a day in "the Unizone".

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Sign me up for the Unizone!! Great post! Love it!