September 1, 2014


I remember when I was young, it was considered good protocol to include on your Resume that you are capable of multitasking trying to impress the person interviewing you for a potential job. 

Before retirement, my job required me to be super busy multi-tasking all the time and it was frustrating, I do admit.  Working with lawyers is super stressful, especially working for three attorneys at one time.  Years ago, it was one on one.  One secretary to one attorney.  Well, the economy has changed all that years ago putting stress on the one individual, "the legal secretary"!

Just last week, I was watching the Katie Couric show and can’t remember the name of the scientist that was her guest on this topic.  I found this person very interesting and, I’m now convinced that our brain has to switch from one thing to another and not be able to do all at once.  Listening to this man brought me back to my stressful days in a law firm.

"People can't multitask very well, and when people say they can, they're deluding themselves," said neuroscientist. And, he said, "The brain is very good at deluding itself."

You're not paying attention to one or two things simultaneously, but switching between them very rapidly.

I have experienced being in the middle of typing an e-mail and the phone rings, it is not easy to complete my email while talking on the phone at the same time.  You cannot focus on one while doing the other.

I’m always aware and know when someone calls me and they are on their computer at the same time while trying to have a conversation with me.  They are not completely listening to me and it annoys me, so I don’t understand why they call me in the first place?  Especially when a person is playing a game online and I can clearly hear the bells and chimes of the game in the background.  

People text while walking and I have seen them bang into telephone poles (I, personally dialed 911 after seeing a young man bang into a telephone pole while texting and knocked himself out) and I have seen people sending emails during dinner in restaurants while sitting with spouses and other friends. I’m guilty of chatting on the phone while cooking dinner but to my defense, I was not the person who made the call, someone called me.

Why are we all in such a hurry.  Please people, do not text and drive. The life you save maybe your own!

Chances are, you’re not doing yourself (or your boss, or your friends and family) any favors by multitasking your way through the day. Research shows that it’s not nearly as efficient as we like to believe, and can even be harmful to our health. You should stop everything you’re doing—well, all but one thing—and rethink the way you work, socialize, and live your life.  Stress causes chronic diseases.

What you call multitasking is really task-switching

Katie’s guest explained it like this: It’s like a pie chart, and whatever we’re working on is going to take up the majority of that pie. There’s not a lot left over for other things, with the exception of automatic behaviors like walking or chewing gum.

It makes sense that moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity, because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears—plus, you never get fully “in the zone” for either activity.  It is slowing you down. It makes more sense to me to prioritize your tasks and release stress at the same time.

I remember always piling up my files on my desk and taking the most important ones first and especially the ones I dreaded because I would get them out of the way at the beginning of the day giving my mind a break and allowing me to pace myself on a more steady pace for the remainder of the afternoon.
Of course, certain jobs add more stress, the legal field is on the top of the list.  But, I feel it can be put under control if everyone had a plan to put in place and respect your co-workers is one.  A person is only capable of doing so much in one day.  Pushing them to do further is really not productive and causing the boss to have a very unhappy Employee.  Happy Employees do better work.

Hey, all you attorneys out there...........listen couldn't personally handle all the work you dump on your secretaries!  So, learn to be more courtious and please don't give your secretary work to do at 5:00 PM when she is just shutting down her computer and looking forward to going home after a very busy day and facing more stress of the traffic, then preparing dinner, cleaning up the mess, then relaxing only to start all over again the following morning.

After I retired, a friend asked me to help her doctor husband out and work for him until he found someone that knew how to use a computer and type his reports for him. I didn't want to do it but she kept haunting me.  P.S.  This request was supposed to be temporary and it lasted for three years!

I then realized that nurses and/or medical assistants in a medical office don't work as hard as Executive Legal Assistants.  After, the patient is signed in and the nurse takes all the vitals, the patient is then put in a room.  The nurse goes back to her station and reads a magazine!  And this goes on all day long.  I was shocked, I could never be caught reading a magazine in a law office!  Who had the time in the first place.  There was just too much work to do.

All this, I experienced around the year of 2007 when most doctor's office did not even have computers. Therefore, nurses and staff also had no knowledge of how to even use a computer.  The doctors hired outside help to type their medical reports for each patient.

Then all the reps come in and load up the kitchen with tons and tons of food for the doctor and staff! Unbelievable!  And, we wonder why we pay so much for pharmaceuticals.  Oh, and did I mention, they have two hour lunches!

That blew my mind because I never had that leisure time while working in a law office. Legal secretaries are lucky they have time to pee and take a lunch hour on most days! I'm not joking about this, I'm very serious.  

Now, the medical assistant replaced the magazines with their Ipad, Iphone, or some other electronic device.  And people wonder how human errors are made? To much distraction going on and in the wrong direction at the wrong work place.
Being retired now, I’m guilty of reading a book and watching TV at the same timeIt makes sense that if you try to do two things at once—read a book and watch television, like I do for example—that you’re going to miss important details of one or both. Then I find myself re-reading that same paragraph again.  So, I understand this now and turn the TV off or at least put the TV on mute until I finish that chapter.


  1. I never have been a good multi task person. One thing at a time is the way to get things done efficiently. I had a job much like yours but not as a legal secretary. Still I was the only one in the office and had 3 bosses. Sometimes 4 or 5 as their wives also came in with work for me to do for them. I had to prioritize what needed done daily. I did answer phones but couldn't do the computer work at the same time. I may have tried it a few times but you are right about it not working. I like you will read when I have the TV on. But only because I can't stand the long commercials. I read when they are on and then stop when the program resumes.

  2. Such a wonderful entry!! One I can totally relate to!!

    The hubs and I are kind of retired and I love it......enjoying life one fun moment at a time, with no need to multitask!!

  3. I hear you. I really do. When I was younger I used to do what they call multitasking. But these days, now that I'm older I tend to give my undivided attention to the things I do.

  4. Strange, you express my opinions very well. (smile) One thing I liked to do was get the worst jobs out of the way.
    I dealt with Attorneys so much in the building industry, I can sympathize with what you are saying, I cannot count the times the attorney has said, "Kathy would you retype this and drop this or that." And that was back when no mistakes or white out were allowed and it was actually on the type writer. I remember the last few times with the aid of the computer contracts could be changed in a couple minutes. What a blessing.

    When I was a supervisor it always bugged me tooo much, to see someone operating a computer and reading a mag, or trying to keypunch and talk on a phone.

    And NOW on the road, seeing a guy or gal pass me at 70-75 mph holding the phone on top of the steering wheel texting thinking they are watching the road and texting without distraction, scares the daylights out of me.

    As always very good stuff. I bet you were a 'WHIZ BANG' in an office, and a pride for a boss.

  5. Hi Rose...

    I positively cannot read a book while watching tv.

    I've been able to pop clothes into the washer while cooking supper. Is that multi-tasking?

    Aren't you glad you are out of the law office rat race?

    Now you can do whatever you WANT to do! Susan

  6. We do try to multi-task and then to tell you the truth - nothing is done really right - especially when talking to someone.