Thursday, October 06, 2005

LoL#54: Multitasking while Multitasking

So I'm back. I know it's been a long time and for those of you that actually read these, sorry to disappoint. I don't know if I've just been overly busy lately or just uninspired, but work's been a bear so I haven't had much time to spew all my crazy ponderings into an e-mail for y'all. Not that today is much slower, but I tend to have these brief breaks throughout my day (waiting for centrifuges to spin, purification columns to drip, cells to plate, etc....) and I thought maybe I could string a bunch of breaks together to create something of a coherent e-mail. But before I continue I have to go warm up my cell media in the water bath. Be right back....

....Okay where was I.... Oh yeah I wanted to tell you all about my super spiffy trip to Washington D.C.!! It was way cool. Tony just changed jobs and he had a week vacation paid out from his old job so I took some time off and we went to visit his dad in DC. We spent most of the trip museum hopping which was quite convenient since there were no lines and everything was free. I'll give you the play by play of what we saw/did in one sentence but keep in mind this was over four days: Dulles Airport, Natural History Museum, President Bush (in his limo), Sculpture Garden, White House, US Treasury, White House Visitor Center, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Castle, rode the metro, coffee with Barack Obama & Dick Durbin (IL senators), Senate gallery tour, Botanic Gardens, Air & Space Museum, American History Museum, Chinatown, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial, WWII Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington House, Air & Space Museum Annex, and back to Dulles Airport. It was an awesomely full trip! Now that things are more routine again - actually my centrifuge just beeped. Hold on....

Sorry. I'm purifying SPARC (it's a protein... 'nuff said) today which means every 20 minutes I have to add more PBS to the columns in the centrifuge. I'm also running a proliferation assay which requires a one hour incubation after adding reagents to my cells followed by two plate reader applications. And then I'm treating a different plate of cells with two different growth factors and eight dilutions of SPARC. As well as answering the phone, signing for packages, placing orders, refilling tips, checking on mice, etc. etc. etc. Hence (as you noticed from the title) I dedicate this LoL to all of you considered to be Masters of Multitasking!! But seriously, people, what's the deal with Multitasking anyway??? Doesn't it really just indicate that -

*phone call*

- we're all just overworked? That's what interviewers want these days is a "Multitasker" which basically means they want to hire the person who will do the most things at once. How crazy is that?!?!?? I'm certain that once upon a time it was quite acceptable and perhaps even applauded to compile a "To Do" list and methodically check off the items one by one, yet in this day and age we would call someone like that slow and inefficient. This is the Age of The Multitasker. And note we're not looking for Dualtaskers or Tritaskers, no we want MULTI!! The more the better! In fact even e-mail has thrived because I can send a message to all 43 of you with the click of a single button. But let's not stop there. Consider if you will a grand phenomenon known as The Lunch Meeting. No, you can't take precious time out of your work day to do something as mundane (and hopefully relaxing) as eating lunch. That would be a waste of time! Instead we need to -

*sorry had to show our new medical fellow where the syringes are kept*

- use that precious lunch hour for more business!! And then there's the more overlooked expanders of multitasking. Take for example voice mail. It's no longer good enough just to talk to someone on the phone. We need the capability to take someone ELSE'S call while we're talking. Or even worse is Call Waiting. When you utter that sweet little "Hold Please" aren't you basically just -

*centrifuge again*

- telling the person on the line that you'd rather be talking to someone else? And how about the brilliant invention that is the TiVo? Granted most people have some generic cable company provided DVR system but everyone calls them all TiVo's anyway. And I like how "TiVo" is suddenly an acceptable verb as in "I won't be home to watch Lost tonight, could you TiVo it for me?" That cracks me up. But I digress, the genius of this product is that you can tape one thing and watch something else. Even in something as purely leisurous as TV watching, we've found a way to multitask.

Anyhoo, I have a point here *shocking isn't it?* and I just remembered what it was. See, I was talking to a pastor friend of mine the other day about taking some time out from all the work I've been doing at church. I'm no longer going to be leading a small group of high school students and am transitioning into working more with the service ministry (where Tony and I are both involved) and working to get students involved with service projects. But I was telling him that I've been feeling spread too thin and that in trying to do too many things I wasn't giving my full heart to any of it. He told me very simply "Sometimes you just have to focus on One Thing." I laughed rather cynically considering all that typically goes on in my life and replied "Easier said than done." But rather than accept my attitude he came back with "Better done than regretted." I think I at first took his comment to mean that I should just have one ministry in my life but when I thought about all that I care about in life (family, friends, work, church, self, home, etc etc etc), two things came to mind: God and Finger Eleven.

Let me explain. There's a Finger Eleven song that came out sometime last year and it's called "One Thing" and the lyrics to the chorus are : "If I traded it all, If I gave it all away for one thing... Just for one thing. If I sorted it out, If I knew all about this one thing, Wouldn’t that be something?" And in thinking about those lyrics I realized that God should and needs to be my One Thing. All the rest can be better cared about if that first part is true. What would life look like if instead of trying to do a million things for the church I "traded it all" for making God my priority? How much calmer and less hurried could I be "If I sorted it out" and "If I knew all about" God and His plans for me? As the song says "Wouldn't that be something?" So maybe this is where the truth and the good side of Multitasking comes in. We need to start with our One Thing. With that in focus we can handle everything else that we need to deal with. And maybe that is easier said than done, but I'm certain it's better done than regretted.

Multitaskfully Yours,

lisa :)

p.s. For those newbies on the list, sorry if this failed to amuse you. My last e-mail was all about an annoying air freshener so you can check out the archive for something more entertaining if you like.

p.p.s. Here's the full lyrics of the song for anyone who cares:
Restless tonight cause I wasted the light
Between both these times I drew a really thin line
It’s nothing I planned and not that I can
But you should be mine across that line

If I traded it all, If I gave it all away for one thing...
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out, If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldn’t that be something?

I promise I might not walk on by
Maybe next time but not this time
Even though I know I don’t want to know
Yeah... I guess I know I just hate how it sounds

If I traded it all, If I gave it all away for one thing...
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out, If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldn’t that be something?

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