The juggling act
By Kristel Manes, Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre
As I find myself emptying my daughters? lunch bags, throwing supper on the grill and begin washing the dishes, all the while answering my daughter?s persistent questions in regards to a home work assignment due yesterday, I silently wonder to myself? When exactly did my life become all about the delicate balance of multitasking?
As a young impressionable child, you would find yourself at a local fair watching in absolute fascination as an accomplished juggler would toss multiple balls in the air, all different types of formations but nevertheless, kept them airborne. Up next came the china plates as we held our breath in his efforts not to lose Grandma?s fine china (Christmas would never be the same again) and then proceeded to round out his performance by tossing flaming batons into the mix, effortlessly to those who watched, and all with a smile on his face. Life as a child consisted of little multitasking other than organizing play dates so that all friends were included, making sure you were home in time to watch your favourite cartoons and always being ready and available for a friendly game of hide and seek or be available to cheer on the cute boys? street hockey game. Ah, Bliss!
Fast forward now if you will, to those awkward teenage years, bringing new social
pressures and responsibilities into the multitasking mix. It was a constant challenge to attend school, carry after school jobs, tackle homework assignments and projects (usually last minute, I will admit the apple doesn?t fall far from the tree), hang out with friends and then be ready at a moment?s notice to be fashionably respectable (remember how long big hair took to accomplish?) in order to attend the social event of the week (if you were lucky enough to be invited). All this and still somehow managing to be present for Sunday nights traditional family dinner and quality family time (God help you if you weren?t in attendance and accounted for). Enough said.
The arrival of early adulthood meant a new kind of freedom but as we all know that freedom represented more forces to be reckoned with and bigger consequences accordingly. A full time job, new apartment, a car that actually ran and the
pressure of meeting diverse groups of friends at different special club nights, every night of the week (no, I didn?t have a problem, it was the social thing to do in the booming
metropolis this city girl was raised in) brought a whole new level to multitasking. My mother would always gently remind me ?Kristel, don?t burn the candle at both ends? but I was young, energized, invincible and, boy, was I an important person in this world, my own force to be reckoned with and I could handle the balancing act. Hear me roar!
Now, as an accomplished mother, daughter, aunt, friend, colleague, speaker and business person (and the list goes on depending on what day it is and what needs fixing), I find my real challenge lies with coming to terms with the reality that multitasking is absolutely an essential way of life for me. Researchers have said that it is actually counterproductive to multitask as it actually inhibits your abilities and it takes longer to complete the tasks at hand. It has also been suggested in published research studies that women are better multitaskers due to biological reasons. It would seem that a woman?s corpus callosum (say that ten times fast), the middle part of the brain that handles the communication between the two hemispheres, is actually larger than a man?s, therefore allowing the two sides to synthesize better together. Whatever the reason, whatever the research, I have recognized that I couldn?t live my life any other way and rather than whine and complain about it, a new attitude is in order. I have decided to no longer look at multitasking as a chore or a burden but rather as a gift of time. I was introduced to the skills and tools early in life (unknowingly to me) and have realized that each new challenge, obligation or responsibility was one more tool in my tool chest. This gentle balance of time allows me the honour and the privilege of being able to somehow be a small part of everything and everyone I touch, and simultaneously keeps me connected to each of these aspects, lovingly reminded as to what really matters most in the world. I guess along the way I really became my own juggling star, keeping all those balls in the air, effortlessly and always smiling, as we go through this game we call life.