Tag Archives: Change Your Life

Multi-tasking My Feminism

We used to brag about our ability to multitask. Employers would be excited to hear about our ability to keep track of multiple activities at the same time. It used to illustrate a sharp brain that could process information quickly and efficiently.

And then “they” did a study. I don’t remember who, and I don’t remember when, but I remember hearing about it, and taking note. According to the study, multi-tasking was not as efficient as we all believed it was. Simply put, the brain had to disengage from one activity before it could begin another activity. (Regardless of how quickly our brain could disengage and re-engage?  I’m not sure if that was ever looked into.) This process took 30 seconds, but that is 30 seconds that we couldn’t get back. That was a waste of 30 seconds, and therefore not as efficient as finishing one task before starting another one.

I had a manager once who gave morning meetings. It was a womens-only business, and for the most part, I had a lot of time for thinking while there. I was the morning receptionist, so I wasn’t always there for the meeting that the rest of the team really needed to hear. One morning, though, I caught the end of her daily pep talk. I cannot remember what she was referring to, but she made the point about something that all of the women really resonated with:

“It’s like when you’re cleaning the house. You don’t just finish one room at a time and move on. You start the dishes, pick up the papers, take the laundry to the bedroom, etc.”

I think it resonated with me so well because I had never thought about what I was doing in that way. Growing up, we had a list of cleaning chores that we ticked off throughout the weekend as they were done, so I always did think of it as accomplishing one task at a time. My favourite chore, though, was laundry, and that is something that necessitates ‘multi-tasking’ while you do it. Unless you take your laundry to a laundromat (something that I have always fantasized about but never had the pleasure to get to do), you put some dirty clothes, and go onto something else for the next 20-30 minutes while your machine is cleaning it. I think this may actually be why laundry is my favourite task around the house. When I’m doing laundry, I get it in the machine, and then I am motivated to do something else around the house while I am waiting for the next part of that task. It’s somewhat rewarding to have the tasks around the house broken down into small tasks that I can engage and disengage my mind from.

Last summer, I read an article about how women’s work around the home is still not valued for the amount of effort put into it. Simply put, women are still informally put into the position of house manager, needing to remember events, chores (“honey-do” lists are just one way of delegating), and holding the family unit to the standard required for that family.  This idea has led to many conversations with my feminist ally husband… and even a few arguments. (Our relationship thrives on the constant growth of understanding our world from our slightly different viewpoints.) I am still ruminating on this idea, and probably always will be ruminating on it.

(The article is on the drain that this mental workload places on women. I highly suggest you read the article and have conversations about this with your friends and family. Check it out here: The Mental Workload of a Mother)

Recently, it has dawned on me that – just as women’s role as ‘house manager’ is not valued – women’s ability to multitask is being devalued with this “new study.”  Of course, nobody in the study or the media reporting on the study would ever say that women’s ability to do this is actually detrimental. That’s not the power structure of patriarchy works at this point in time (nor for the majority of its recorded history). Power structures are often more nuanced than to blatantly state something like that. Instead, the strengths of the lower segment of society are inadvertently de-valued to keep their power and confidence at bay so that those in power can stay there with the value of the strengths that got them there still intact.

This brings me to my leading philosophy on the kind of feminist that I am. There are several forms of feminism – from those who think women should be treated (and as such act) just like men to those who push for the acceptance of gender fluidity and a rejection of the binary.  I sit somewhere in the middle of those groups (I just like seeing the whole spectrum so much).

I recognize that there is a cultural construction of each gender. Within those constructs, there are characteristics that we apply to either genders. For example, men are assumed to be better at spatial reasoning and therefore excel in mathematics. Women, in this example, are assumed to be better at emotional intelligence and therefore excel in roles as caregivers. I know that culture is not static, but a web that we are constantly creating and navigating throughout. In this web, men are told that they are better at math and so they are more interested in it and spend more time understanding it. Women are told that they are better at understanding emotions and are encouraged to learn more about other people’s feeling, opinions, and the social repercussions that this has. Our web is still constructed with patriarchal tendencies, and those dictate that mathematics is more valuable than people’s feelings. Building a bridge is seen as a greater accomplishment than building a team of people with diverse opinions.

My call to feminist arms is to change the characteristics that we as a society value.  All of us have amazing strengths, and it is time that society values those strengths for their uniqueness rather than valuing only those that have always been in power.

When it comes to multi-tasking, I can see it from a non-feminist viewpoint, too. In this the information age, we are bombarded with so much information, tasks, and something new and shiny, that it can be overwhelming for many people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that some people thrive more in this environment than others. This doesn’t mean that multi-tasking is bad for all of us. What should be focused on instead is how much multi-tasking is still efficient for one person before they can no longer hold it.

For me, I need that break after 20-30 minutes. I also need to feel like I am accomplishing something in order to be motivated to get something else done. As I get into any new role, I use this knowledge about myself to make my work that much more efficient. My multi-tasking load is not going to be the same as yours, and that’s OK.  As someone with an adequate emotional intelligence, I will accept your knowledge of yourself and your strengths and help you excel for who you are.  And, in a slightly different life, I might even have been able to build you a bridge, too. 😉


And Then It Hit Me

I agonized. I thought it all out. I spent nights, lying awake, thinking about it. Yet, I wasn’t doing anything about it.

One night, I got out of bed and decided to do something. My health-focused (read “hypochondriac”) brain had been telling me to just think about something else and drift off to sleep. If I fell asleep now, I could get 6 hours of sleep before the baby was up for the day. OK, now 5 1/2 hours. Somewhere between 5 1/2 and 5 hours of sleep before the inevitable waking up to baby stirrings, I realized that it no longer mattered. How many hours of sleep had I already lost to this? How many more was I going to lose?

I could figure out this problem. I could find the solution on my own. My recent thoughts of asking “expert” friends wasn’t getting done. I needed to just do it myself. Even if it was two hours past the time I really “should have” been sleeping.

An hour later, I had no solution, but I had more information. The journey towards a resolution was under way. It wasn’t the route I thought I was going to take, but my life rarely follows its plan.

And then it hit me.

No, my life does not follow my plans. But my life does follow my intention: to change the world. Whether through some seismic masterpiece or the tiny little decisions that I make at 3 hours past the time I should be sleeping – my life is changing the world. Why should I lose any more sleep worrying about that seismic masterpiece when those little things make just as much of an impact?

And so here I type – two hours before I should go to sleep. Just 25 minutes, I said. That’s all I need to make a difference to me today. That’s all I need to let my voice come out, just a little bit. There is so much more I would like to say, but there really isn’t more time in my day. And maybe there won’t be for the next 20 years. But why should I wait for that perfect moment or that seismic masterpiece if I can make as big of an impact with those tiny little moments every day?

We Get To…Create the Change

The most inspiring phrases can hit us from such a myriad of places. Sometimes, they appear on a Page-A-Day calendar we bought just for that reason. Other times, we search the internet for quotes on “happiness,” “success,” “motivation,” etc. Perhaps you’ve found your guiding light or mantra in a book you read once, twice, or a dozen times. (I’m guessing you re-read it because of the genius in that mantra.)  Wherever you find them, inspiring phrases tend to show up exactly when you need them.

I’m not sure why, but I’m still surprised when an inspiring phrase seems to appear out of thin air. Or not such thin air as the latest example will illustrate. Depending on your view of life, you could believe that life throws you inspiration exactly when you need it. I hope you can believe that.

I was in a visioning exercise at work when I heard the best thing so far in 2016: “we get to create the change.”  Now, for all of those out there who like to always be right, I will impress you all with the fact that this was said in response – and against – my suggestion “to adapt to changes.”  Despite my ego’s desire to always have the best idea in the group, I swooned over this perspective.  As it turns out, synergy really does improve our lives.

Now, like I allowed myself, soak those words in: we get to create change.  Yes, it’s important to react to the changes happening around us, and be flexible. And, yes, it’s also important to hold our ground and stand for the things that are really important to us. But, what if we could do both of those things? What if we could constantly be observing the world around us and recognizing trends, while at the same time working towards that world we want to be a part of?  That is what those words meant to me.

So, what change do I want to create in this world? When I look back on my life, what do I want to see behind me? In front of me? Around me?  Well, for almost a decade, it has been one strong theme: the end of factory farms. But what all does that entail? How are we going to create that change? What is my role in creating that change? What are all the possibilities that might work with me and against me through that lifelong goal?  And, most importantly, what is the one thing I need to do right now to start making things happen?

I’m still working on my answers to all of those things, and more.  Don’t worry, you’ll be updated on them as things progress.  For now, I want to leave you with your own questions:

  1. What is the change you want to create in the world?
  2. Why would you choose just that one thing to change?
  3. Who are you going to impact with that change?
  4. How will you know when you’re making progress?
  5. What is one thing you can do today to start making things happen?

Share what you want to in the comments below, or email me your response to jodi(at)koachkarlssen.com

Until Next Time – Be The Mountain!