I've been told Moms are good at it. I'm not really sure that's true. I think the only reason people say that is we are forced to attempt it. The results don't always equal success.
As a veterinarian, I have to multitask. I have to triage- A medical term derived from French where you divvy up your responsibilities into; going to die if I don't help, going to live for at least a while if I don't help or going to die no matter what I do. In an emergency situation this skill is important to prioritize what you address first. I found myself once getting screamed at by an irate person because her precious bulldog who ate a large steak bone (which she gave it) was going to have to wait because I was in the midst of chest compressions on a dog that a team of five of us were doing CPR on. Her response to my, "ma'am, please wait so we can save this dog's life," was, "But I was here first!". Hopefully, her dog never needed CPR even though it might of made her understand the absurdity of her statement.
I often have to multitask professionally- the dog or cat comes in for vaccines and I find it has anemia, and an ear infection, and most importantly to some, needs its nails clipped.
Medical priorities and priorities of pet owners don't always go in-sync. I don't know how many times I have talked with owners, told them there dog only has a few more days to live and they jump on getting their dogs nails clipped because they are already at the clinic and it's convenient. I do try to treat the whole dog and all the problems though, even if that means doing a little extra work so that dog or cat with terminal cancer or kidney disease doesn't have to deal with the additional discomfort of a urinary tract infection or ear infection. It's just hard sometimes as we often have many balls in the air. Often people come in as "emergencies" or "walk ins" and we have to juggle those patients with those we already have on the schedule or find extra time (often during lunch) to do procedures that have to be done for the animals health and comfort and can't be put off another day.
Okay, so professionally I don't have much control over multi-tasking, but personally I do. I would like to take a journey to do less multi-tasking and more "focused sprints", meaning small periods of focus to get the job done. I will try to report back on how this journey goes. What might have been my epiphany, you might ask? I found myself walking my dog back to our hotel room not remembering what I did to the hotel key. While I was walking my dog I was simultaneously thinking about everything I had to do and trying to figure out how to get my phone back in the Internet to publish this blog and at least two other things. I left the key on the grass when I picked up my dogs waste, apparently. Luckily I found it and all is well but it made me think about how ridiculous and truly non-helpful multitasking can be.
Then as I was chastising myself I was thinking about multitasking being similar to how us Moms overload our purses. I try to clean mine out regularly but my husband still makes fun of it...that is... Until we found ourselves in the airport and my son was insisting we purchase orange juice and the only bottle they had was a ridiculously tall one that would have ended up spilling all over my son and my husband looks at me like I'm crazy. Then I pull out a straw from my purse. "You carry a straw in your purse?" He asked. "Yep, for moments like these". An orange juice and toddler crisis averted, I think my husband had slightly more respect for my purse that day. Maybe I shouldn't beat up on the multitasking mommy bag traits I have after all.