Men and multitasking

I read this BBC piece about a study that showed that women are better at multitasking than men. Which is of course a big "No shit, Sherlock."

I ran a company in the 80s, and learned then that projects that pulled together a lot of people and resources were generally better handled by women. Multitasking projects.

For example, if you asked a man to get the company to a trade show, or ship a product, there would be one really neat aspect of the event or product, and most other things would be left for the last minute, if they were dealt with at all.

Now, as a man, I can do multitasking -- if I have to. Because I am single, I have to deal with all the things that come with running a house, living a life. If I don't, no one else will. So the dishes get cleaned, the bills get paid, the tax returns filed, but all of it, by the skin of my teeth. Like everyone, I live with a lot of chaos, but I can push it aside and focus only on the things I care about.

I'd much rather spend a whole day solving a problem, writing a story or reading one, taking a long train ride, or just thinking about something until it's resolved. One thing done really well -- that's my "normal."

I've run four conferences, so I know I can multitask. I've also developed products that have taken years of concentrating, every day, all day, to the exclusion of everything. Iterating, puzzling, thinking, trying ideas out. It's highly creative work, but progress comes slowly. Just a little progress, and some days no progress at all. It can be discouraging, but if you know where you're going and you really want to get there, you don't give up. I am very stubborn that way. Sometimes with good results, but many times with nothing to show for it. Sometimes a whole year goes by with nothing to show for it.

Someday we will be able to handle stories about things men generally do better than women without having a huge eruption of rage. But for now, it's best to remind women that they do things better than we do, before asking them to consider there might be things we do better than them.

Do I think this is right? No of course not. I think we should love all of us for the things we do and don't do. For the things that make us who we are. We should tolerate ideas that we don't like, and try to learn from them. But that's not the world we live in, unfortunately.

Someday it will all be right... Until then,

Namaste and buongiorno!

A picture of a slice of cheese cake.

PS: As I get ready to publish this piece, just want to say it's fucking exhausting writing about myself as a man, trying to anticipate all the verbal violence that's going to come at me. But I do it because we have to go through this, get to a point where we all learn that we can survive men talking about themselves in a positive way.

Posted: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 14:08:50 GMT