I Can’t Multi-task

A typical weekend for me involves going to my job for Saturday morning, and returning to either do some work on my personal projects (portfolio, desk, etc) or relaxing with a movie or a few episodes of whatever tv show I am watching. Saturday night has lately involved some form of assignment work mixed with watching something (YouTube, music, tv shows or a movie) on my second monitor, which normally ends up me neglecting work to concentrate on the movie. Sunday I might go for a walk or a run, maybe venture into the city, or it’s usually similar to Saturday afternoon/night, just slowly plotting along with work, getting distracted with other things. In other words, my weekends are pretty lazy, and to be honest I don’t usually achieve much. Then there was this past weekend…..

Leading up to the weekend I knew I had a bit to do, which included attending architecture presentations, brother’s birthday gathering, packing to move locations, assignment submission, group meeting for studio and personal work for studio and other subjects. I might not sound like much but in my mind there was a bit involved, and I wanted to be in the moment for each task, not worrying about the next one.

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Saturday morning I dedicated to attending the Presentation to Juries, hosted at MSD for the AIA Victorian Architecture Awards (I’ll do a separate post for this during the week) where I was able to watch some great architects present some great projects. There was also a little bit of a social aspect to the event, saying ‘hello’ and having a chat with some architects, and grabbing a bite to eat from the food truck. I then spent a couple hours on Saturday afternoon doing a partial pack of my room, getting some things together to take to my brothers that evening. I also spent an hour or so mocking up a SketchUp of the site for Design Studio, modeling mainly the surrounding context.

The Saturday was my younger brother’s and his partner’s birthday, and that night he was having a small gathering out in Point Cook which also involved my older brother and his little family (his daughters, and his partner and her son and daughter). I attended the event but refrain from drinking as I had to be up early, and fresh, for the 2016 Run for the Kids, a 16km run I signed up to do. Saturday night I was sociable until 10:30pm, then I drove back to Parkville and had my last night in the Parkville terrace which I called ‘home’ since November.

File 22-03-2016, 10 10 30 AM

I woke up early on Sunday and made my way to Alexandra Gardens for the race, and achieved what I set out to do. After the race I got a massage and a bite to eat, sat down and spent a little bit of time with my older brother and his partner (who did the 5km walk as part of the event) and my cousin (who also did the 16km race). I returned home to Parkville to finish of the packing, and as someone once said “The last 20% of the work requires 80% effort”, and that statement was completely true! I put the final bag in my car around 5pm and headed to uni for a couple hours to meet with the group for studio. After leaving uni I go back to my younger brother’s in Point Cook, as I’ll be staying there temporarily until I find another place, and unload a couple bags. Had a nice serving of rice for dinner with my brother and his partner and after some chatting I excused myself. I finished off the night (and weekend) with some required SketchUp modeling for the Master Plan presentations today, then just did a little bit extra. I finally rolled over to sleep around 1am.

So why did I bore you with all that? Believe it or not, I do have a point. I probably spent a total of 6 hours on university work this weekend, broken up in blocks of 1hr, 2hrs, 2hrs, 1hr, two of that was at university for the group meeting/work. Last week I was talking to a friend on the mobile telephone where I confessed to her that I can’t talk on the phone and eat the same time, to which she laughed. That was a fair reaction from her, but it isn’t that I don’t eat out of respect to the person on the other line, it’s just that I can’t concentrate on eating and talking at the same time. This weekend confirmed something, I can’t multi-task, however when I do focus on a task at hand (and I mean really focus) I can achieve more in less time.

I started off describing my typical weekend is so there is a base-model to compare, which is me trying to ‘multi-task’. Whether it’s trying to watch a movie and work at the same time, or having 8 tabs open on Chrome, all about different things, my brain can’t handle multiple tasks. People make comments that men can’t multi-task, and I’m not up to speed on the latest research, but I’m a pretty good example that confirms this belief.

If I was to attempt that SketchUp model during a typical weekend, it probably would have taken 4x as long. Actually it would be hard to determine just how long it would take, but let me explain. If I sat down and opened up SketchUp and a movie, during the course of the movie I’m paying attention to that, then the model, back to the movie, back to the model…. How do I know how long I actually spent on the model?! Sometimes I just give up modeling and finish watching the movie, or I pause the movie to try and focus on the model. When I was preparing my portfolio for my Master of Architecture application, people would ask what I was up to, and my typical response was “Working on the portfolio” and one day someone replied “Still?! You’ve been working on that for ages” The truth is, the actual time spent working on it was hard to determine, as I was trying to multi-task with everything else.

What can I do with this confirmed theory, moving forward? For one, stop telling myself I can put on a movie and do some work at the same time, because I can’t. Two, when I focus and try not to perfect (yes, a call-back) I can actually achieve quite a bit, even in less time. Three, it’s okay not to be working on uni all the time, and having time to refresh your mind is important. Four, I seriously can’t multi-task. Of course out in practice I will probably need to be able to somewhat multi-task, so I will need to work on this skill (if it is a skill) but for now I might just not open a movie or YouTube when I need to work.

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