In that serendipitous flow that blogs excel at, Chukti made contact with me after a quarter of a century. [Great connecting up, Chutki!) And as we conversed he brought up Attention Deficit Trait (as defined by Edward Hallowell) and wondered what I thought of it.
I quote from the article. “Mr Hallowell says that people who work in physical isolation are more likely to suffer from ADT than those who share a lively office“.
When I see statements like that I start thinking about popes and catholicism and bears and woods and faeces.
But what do I know?
So I continue to do what I do, and learn from my wife and my children. It’s strange, my wife does not do e-mail. She wants to, and we keep putting off “the lesson”. It will happen. Soon.
But in the meantime.
Watching her deal with her daily routine, and (when and where possible) participating in it, teaches me more about multitasking and dealing with distractions than I could learn in an “office” environment. Let me draw out some themes, briefly.
1. Some of her tasks are regular and inflexible in terms of time. School runs and mealtimes are classic examples.
2. Some are regular but more flexible in the context of precisely when she does them. Shopping and laundry and meal preparation are examples of these. And keeping fit.
3. Some are regular and low-flexibility in terms of time, but she outsources them. Cleaning and ironing and dry-cleaning come to mind.
4. Most of this is done while I am at work and the children are at school, so she does them largely on her own. But she interacts a lot with people while she does them. And she has many interruptions, some welcome, some not. Phones and doorbells ringing. “Outsourced” task handlers needing answers to questions in order to continue. Things to follow up, things to organise.
5. And somewhere within all this, she finds time for herself, to rest, to relax, to read the Bible, to pray. And motivate and spur and cajole and support the rest of us. And stay contented and patient.
What I find particularly fascinating is a constant and dynamic prioritisation process. They say a woman’s work is never done. And sometimes it seems to me that as a result, their concept of what is important and what is not is very well defined.
Yes, I can learn a lot about multitasking from her. And I try to. Especially since she has all this without e-mail and IM and RSS, and has learnt how to deal with it all.
This mix of must-do and may-do, of time-inflexible and time-flexible, interspersed with personal and household recharging, this mix tells me a lot about how 21st century management could be. Not assembly line but networked household. With adults and children and friends and service providers. I learn a lot about prioritisation and pragmatism from my wife.
LifeKludger, if you read this, maybe you can give us your take on all this. You probably know more about working in isolation than I’ll ever learn.