Multitasking (Or Not)


Brooke and Denise are part of the “core team” at Forsyth Magazines. At 26 years old, Brooke serves as associate editor and account executive, while 41-year-old Denise serves as project manager. They work closely together and, in recent conversations, have discovered a very different viewpoint on the term “multitasking.” This topic is a hot one, especially as Gen-X and Millennials find themselves co-existing in the workplace. Brooke and Denise explore this topic from their individual perspectives.

Brooke’s thoughts…

As I’m writing this, I have closed out of email, closed my internet browser, and the only sounds I am hearing are a bit of background noise and (soft) music. I feel that I wouldn’t be able to sufficiently write this article otherwise. My brain can only fully concentrate on one thing at a time.

My husband agrees with me here. He gets slightly frustrated with me when I ‘try’ to have a conversation with him while simultaneously sending a text message or when I’m on the phone with him while ‘trying’ to type an email. To be honest, when I do try to multitask, I end up doing both tasks in a mediocre manner, and it takes twice as long.

It may be a millennial “thing,” or perhaps it’s just a “me” thing, but nothing gives me satisfaction like crossing something off of a to-do list. I make a daily to-do list with a reasonable (and attainable) number of tasks on it. Partially crossing things off (ha!) or not being able to cross anything off throughout the day… well, it just wouldn’t work for me.

I take pride in my work ethic—and I’m not shy about telling any of my co-workers to give me a minute when I’m asked a question about something that I am not currently working on.

I have to say, I am a bit envious of Denise’s multitasking ability. She truly can switch from one task to another (and then back to the first task…and on to a third and back to the second task….) with the blink of an eye. It’s amazing how many things she can juggle. I, on the other hand, am going to need some transition time, and once I start something, I will not move on until I am finished with it. Lucky for me, Denise is always quick to answer my questions, even if she is in the middle of something. So really, I am thankful for her ability to multitask.

It’s very intriguing to work in an office with different generations who all have unique work ethics and working styles. I’m proud of how well we work together and how we learn from one another daily.

Denise’s thoughts…

When I entered the workforce 20-some years ago, the term “multitasking” was a buzzword that everyone wanted front and center on their resume. If you could highlight it, make it bold, and maybe even have little flashing arrows pointing all around it, even better. The term was an asset, and to declare your ability to multitask was something of which to be proud.

While, admittedly, I see the flaws of multitasking, I am proud that the term is a part of my work style. It’s part of my generation’s legacy in the workforce. I wear a lot of hats for the magazines. I plan events, create layouts, manage accounts, provide sales support, organize editorial, write, and have many other responsibilities on my plate. Being able to jump from my role as a writer to my role in sales support and at the same time, answer emails from readers and forward leads is something that I couldn’t do if my mind weren’t quick enough to hop from one thing to the next. I confess, though, that as I get older, writing an email while talking on the phone is becoming more of a challenge. I find myself typing my conversation rather than what I’m supposed to be writing!

Brooke’s generation takes a different approach to mine, and while it’s not a practice I have for myself, it’s one I respect. Brooke has an extraordinary work ethic, and her ability to prioritize tasks and get through her to-do list is tremendous.

I’ve tried it her way. I’ve tried shutting down email for various points throughout the day, but doing so makes me very anxious. I have a hard time focusing because I wonder if I am missing something important. At least when email is running in the background, I can see the preview as it drops into my mailbox, and get an idea of whether or not it is a matter that can wait.

Brooke and I come from different generations with different work styles, but our commitment to the job is the same! And together – we make a pretty dynamic team, if I do say so myself!