So if you want to save yourself some time reading this article – my answer is simple – Stop Multi-Tasking!
But if you want a little learning and levity – at my expense – feel free to read on.
So anyone who has followed me on Facebook the last few years will know that on occasion I have had some issues with cooking. i.e. Burning pots while cooking rice or oatmeal, overflowing the new rice cooker with quinoa, burning oatmeal and saving a pot, burning spaghetti, sigh, and losing the pot, a few little candle fires while making pizza, during a dinner party … – yeah don’t ask on that one it may not have been publicized and yes, the term ‘some’ may be under exaggerating a little, I agree.
In any case, the reality is I try to multi task all the time while cooking and it always fails. Always.
Multi tasking was a term that started as a term to define computer operations but then changed to define how people could perform multiple tasks at one time.
In 1966, it made its entry to the Oxford Dictionary with this note:
multitasking, n. and adj. Another computing term makes its appearance. Multitasking has since expanded beyond computers to refer to the performance of multiple, simultaneous tasks in general.
Some notes I found indicate it was an engineering term referring to machines that were – able to perform multiple tasks – but not necessarily at the same time.
It is a term many people use on resumes as a skill companies are looking for and that hiring companies have always asked – Can you multi task?
Having analyzed my cooking behaviour of late, I tend to agree.
In every scenario I can remember, and I am sure all the ones I have forgotten, I was not focusing on the task at hand – the oatmeal or rice. Instead I changed my focus and was off doing something else and the initial task failed to get to completion.
Now, don’t get me wrong – a fully burned pot of rice that takes out the pot with it, smokes up the entire house, sets off the smoke detectors, has me throwing the pot in the snow, opening all the windows on the main level of the house, pulling out batteries in the smoke detectors and sending the dogs running to the basement to hide under the beds … is indeed complete. Heck … it’s an entire complete funny farm, maybe a book or even a TV show! But it did not in fact achieve the goal I had in mind for the completion of this task – i.e. a nice bowl of rice on the dinner table, or oatmeal ready for my dogs’ meals.
Last week, as I headed to Toronto, I realized that I need to stop the multi tasking insanity!
Here’s the full story…
I was behind in my chores and decided to make the oatmeal for the dogs while I blow dried my hair. Now, one thing to understand… Marco was also away on a trip and my Mom was coming over that night to be in charge of the kids for a couple days until Marco came back home.
Next thing you know, Olivia is yelling – “What are you burning in the kitchen?” (Note: it was “What are you” not “Are you” – as it was a definitive, not a could it be happening type of observation 🙂 )
CRAP! The oatmeal… I run out and well, it’s too late. The oatmeal goop is all over the new glass top stove and the bottom of the pot is showing signs of burning oatmeal stuck to it. So in the little time I have left before the car comes to take me to the airport, I clean it as best I can.
Later at the airport I reflect on what I left and realize that Mom is coming over. Mom! So when Ryan texts to ask me a question, I text him back a couple notes as a follow-up to the cleanup. (You can read the hilarious texts in the image.)
This was my moment of “Kathy, you need to stop the multi task cooking, NOW!” The moment when I had my kid hide the evidence in the shed from my Mom! Sad… so sad…
And yes…when I came home the pot was in fact still in the shed, full of burnt oatmeal… a small reminder to me to stop! It went in the garbage this week. Another pot bites the dust at the Colaiacovo home.
And it is my vow and promise… at least for cooking tasks to stop multi tasking. It will not be a funny story when I burn my house down.
So after doing some research on the term multi tasking for this article, I have decided I prefer the option of single tasking instead and that this practice, might in fact see you more successful in reaching your goals and being more productive.
Multitasking is less productive than single tasking, and some of the research I found online is saying that it actually degrades your cognitive functions across the board and the first thing to go is our ability to assess whether or not we are being productive. You look at the lists and feel like most things are done because you worked on them – but did you actually finish them?
My cooking is a prime example… just because the oatmeal did get cooked, does not mean that it was a successful task completed. Cooked, but inedible and a burnt pot I need to throw out because it is not salvageable, is not a completed task.
Single tasking… that’s my new word for the month. And it is going to start with my kitchen cooking tasks. It has to… or the fire department will come a-calling! Do you multi-task? Please share your experience here, or on facebook.
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