Multitasking, Meet the Flu

My multitasking met its match this week, when I finally left work a bit early on Friday with a case of the flu. I could not keep anything down, had a temperature of over 100, and with weakness so quick and intense that it took me nearly 20 minutes to struggle walking the 3 blocks from the train, it had all the symptoms of the flu. All the symptoms except it did not last the 3 to 5 days I remember.

I got the flu shot, and believe that is the reason why it was not as severe as it was in my early 20’s, when I lived alone and was unable to get out of bed for 5 days.

What is the lesson for multitasking? Well, quite frankly, it stops. All the plans I had for replying to my students’ blogs and forum posts? Stopped. Working with the class I am taking? Halted. Preparing to turn a peer-reviewed abstract into a full paper? No chance. Consulting? Forget it. Work, play, walking the dogs, reading? None of them. The flu, and anything unforeseen, ruins all of the overplanning we do. Multitasking stops completely. Even this posting itself is being done from my BlackBerry while recovering upstate by the fire with the snow gently falling outside.

The lesson? In finally being able to think a bit more clearly after being in a fog for days, I am wondering if multitasking and planning every last moment of available time leaves no time and energy for the unplanned.

Perhaps this is something I should, ironically, begin to plan for?

3 thoughts on “Multitasking, Meet the Flu

  1. It’s interesting that you took this moment as a chance to reflect, while part of ongoing auto-ethnographic work. Planning for the unforeseen is so very hard, it appears, even though it’s been mentioned in lots of research methods book I am currently working through. How to capture the unknown figure / dimension / extent? It is not just in our personal lifes or the work/private intersection where things can come to a complete halt – it’s very similar in organisations and even within societies.
    Perhaps have a look at some of my thoughts on an auto-biographical exercise that made me re-think some of my assumptions, once you are better.
    All the best

  2. @Britta Bohlinger

    I find it difficult not to reflect on my actions, and while that may be part experience and part practice and part obsession, I find that I miss more than I gain whenever I hurray by and ignore opportunities such as these.

    I agree with you completely about coming to a complete halt, especially within organizations, with so many competing mini-cultures, interests, power relationships, and visions for the present and the future.

    Thank you for the link heads-up. I will take a look-see.

  3. Hi Jeffrey
    Thanks again. Now you touch upon what I have always felt the biggest dichotomy around (many may argue against this as male/female, black/white etc seem to be the the more dominant markers): people who reflect on their actions and non-actions, with an ease that conveys a sense of ‘born-with-this-trait’ versus those who feel rather frightened and uncomfortable by the very thought of it.

    It is a learned practice, I think. Bourdieu and Weber may argue it has to do with social class and informal education, cultural capital may play a huge role in developing this skill. But similarly to the capability to ask critical questions it remains still fairly unclear how adults actually could become more skilled and happy reflexive individuals.
    I had written a post on the skills of critical questioning which I think might be of interest:

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