Wednesday, November 09, 2005
As I have mentioned before, I am a Unitasker. This is something I realized a couple of years ago, a quality that explains why at one moment I'm an efficient, effective communicator, and the next I'm a bumbling, muttering idiot. All my social quirks are byproducts of my unitasking brain; or as I have come to know it — my "Cubbyhole Mind".
Before I delve into the Cubbyhole Mind, let's explore the opposite end of the spectrum — the Multitasker. I've drawn a little something above to give you a visual representation of what a multitasker's mind looks like. There's lots and lots of spaces there to put things. Everything can sit conveniently out in plain view. This multitasker in particular can talk on the phone, and cook pasta at the same time. They're also thinking about a purse and shoes they'd like to purchase, as well as thinking about sock monkeys they'd like to make this evening. Yup. Everything's under control here.
Now let's take a look at the Unitasker's mind. Oh dear — it appears the unitasker only has one cubbyhole. Not a lot of space there. It looks like this particular unitasker is currently washing the dishes. Let's just say the phone rings right now... what would we see?
Looks like the unitasker just went to answer the phone. See how it just plopped right in front of the dishes? Luckily, you can still see the dishes in there, and hopefully when the phone call is over (and removed from the cubbyhole) the unitasker will get right back to the dishes. But what if the person who called had a question about something on TV? Say our unitasker goes to the TV to answer their question...
Uh oh. Those dishes just fell right out of the back of the cubbyhole. The only way they'll get done now is if our unitasker goes back into the kitchen and sees a bunch of unwashed dishes. Hopefully, that'll be enough to remind them that they were actually doing the dishes before they started to watch TV. But... it's highly unlikely this will happen. It's prime time!
So now that you understand the unitasker mind, I can give you a little insight into the particulars of my own problem. As I mentioned above, once something falls out of the back of the cubbyhole, the only way it can get back in is if it enters through the front again. By this I mean, I'd have to notice something all over again to remember it. I've learned a couple of little tricks to help me remember things I don't want to forget — writing it on my hand, putting reminders in front of doors — stuff like that.
But there are certain things that I'll never forget. They just appear in the cubbyhole, without any reminder. They are the product of a mischievous, diabolical mind, bent on creating chaos and upsetting the natural order. I've created an excellent metaphor for this tendency; I call it the Mojo Factor.
What does this mean for me? Well, as I try and function as a unitasker, taking care of items in the cubbyhole before I put a new one in there, Mojo hangs out inside the cubby, with his own agenda. Sure, there's a dish in there now, but Mojo doesn't want to hang out with a dish; he wants to be entertained:
I didn't see a playstation, but suddenly an urge to play one has popped into my head. And it's not just video games. At any time my queue gets displaced with pizza, television, website browsing, porn, liquor, guitar, candy, movies, drawing, napping, work-related email, leisurely staring, and inumerable urges to draw Mojo cartoons. I just thank my lucky stars Mojo seems to hate sports.
I'm not looking for pity here. Besides, only the multitaskers will pity me. The rest of my unitasker brethren will stand with me as one. Because there is a side benefit to being a unitasker. I truly believe that when I'm focused on a task, I complete it faster and more efficiently than a multitasker. Which makes sense, right? I mean... as long as nothing distracts me. The multasker is cramming 5 activities into one hour, whereas I do that one activity until it's done. I might finish 2 minutes faster!
So there you are. Now that you have an understanding of multitaskers versus unitaskers, feel free to diagnose yourself. Perhaps you've even got a Mojo factor of your own... perhaps you can now understand the frequent random urges to peel bananas, or lounge in a tree. Whatever the case, we must learn to live together, we taskers. Because if we continue to be at odds, the unitaskers will never finish their laundry.