Friday, September 18, 2009

Multi-tasking Woman

At last, in her own indubitable style, Author/Agent Lois Winston tells us about multi-tasking. Please welcome Lois Winston...

I recently learned of a study regarding multi-tasking, especially as it concerns today’s youth. The radio report made it sound like this was a new phenomenon, something invented by Gen Y kids who are simultaneously plugged into their iPods and surfing the ‘Net while they’re Twittering, texting, updating their Facebook pages, and doing homework.

I laughed out loud. The scientists running that study had to be all guys. Multi-tasking is nothing new. Women have been multi-tasking since the beginning of time. That’s why we have two X chromosomes. We’re born as clones of ourselves, able to multi-task from the moment of conception.

Sigmund Freud hypothesized that the reason men became the hunters and women stayed back at the cave, tending the fire, was because males had an uncontrollable urge to pee on the flames. Women may have wanted to pee on the flames, too, but their physiology kept them from doing so. This was back before our ancestors learned how to make fire. All they could do was keep the home fires burning. So it was really important to make sure the guys stayed beyond peeing distance of the flames. Hence, the division of labor.

Freud got it all wrong, though. The reason men went off in search of saber-toothed tigers and other gastronomic delicacies while the womenfolk stayed back in the cave was because the women could tend the fires, tan the hides, sew the clothing, look after the little ones, and tidy up the cave all at the same time. Men are incapable of doing more than one thing at a time because they have no double “anything” chromosome.

My life is all about multi-tasking. I’m both an award-winning author and a literary agent who has never given up her “day job” as a needlework designer. In addition, I teach online workshops on writing. People (usually of the male persuasion) often ask me how I manage to juggle so many careers. It’s easy.

I’m a WOMAN -- double U O M A N.

It also helps that my kids are grown. I never suffered from empty nest syndrome. I merely replaced all those kid-centric duties that are no more with additional careers. Now instead of one career plus “mom” duties, I have 3+ careers and no “mom” duties. Writing is a lot more fun than carpooling.

I’m wondering, though, with Gen Y guys developing the ability to multi-task, will this new skill spill over into other areas of their lives? Imagine a guy who’s capable of burping the baby and letting the dog out at the same time! Nah. Never happen. He’ll wind up letting the baby out and burping the dog while he’s texting his Fantasy Football picks for the week.

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Award-winning author Lois Winston writes humorous, cross-genre, contemporary novels and romantic suspense. When not writing or designing, you can find Lois trudging through stacks of manuscripts as she hunts for diamonds in the slush piles for the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency where she handles romance, mystery, and women’s fiction authors. If you’d like to read more about Lois, the author, check out her website at If you’d like to query Lois, the literary agent, email her at And if you’d like to learn more about Lois, the teacher of online writing workshops, check out


Donnell said...

Lois, thanks for this great article. I can almost here your New Jersey accent as I read it. Priceless. My DH wouldn't know multi-tasking if it hit him in the forehead, and I can definitely relate to the peeing scene over the fire :)

Theresa said...

Cute Points, Lois, and I have to say . . . I am a man's woman. For the majority of my life I got along better with men than with women. I'm not sure what that says about me . . . I bet a psychiatrist would say PLENTY--and not sure I want to know, but I digress. Of all my men friends and acquaintances . . . I can't think of a single one who is good at multitasking.

Wow. To tell the truth, I'm kind of disappointed at that. I know some wonderful, very accomplished men, and . . . nope. None can multitask-- successfully. They do try. They PRETEND they can, but . . . alas, the poor things fail.

But I must take exception with your peeing on the fire theory. That thought would NEVER enter MY mind, because I'm ALWAYS cold. Freakishly cold. ALWAYS. Man, woman. or beast, I'd have to kill the thing that even looked like they might think about extinguishing my heat!

Thanks for stopping by the Scribes,

Robin said...

Ok, now that was funny. Great column, Lois.

Michelle Miles said...

LOL, LOIS! I coudln't agree more!! I'm a board member of two chapters, writer, Mom, work a day job and STILL manage to cook and clean and do laundry. Yeah, Women are good like that. ;)

Kathye Quick said...

YAY Lois!

Every Wednesday night, and I mean EVERY Wednesday night, my husband drives by everyone else's garbage cans and comes right into the house.

Every Wednesday night I ask him "Honey, did you arrange for the garbage to be picked up from out house on another night?"

He obviously cannot drive and recognize trash day at the same time.

ARCyndi/Dr. Cynthia Morgan said...

It is technically incorrect to use the terms "men" and "Multi-task" in the same sentence. Most men can't multi-task. Let's just say I'm married to a typical male. No multi-tasking gene AT ALL!

Misty Evans said...

I'm a big multi-tasker myself, Lois, so I take my hat off to you and all you managed to do in a day.

My man is a multi-tasker, though. Not as accomplished as I am at it, but he can still do more than one thing at a time, so I guess I either won the lottery or just trained him right!

Lois said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! And Misty, do you hire your husband out? Better yet, can you bottle whatever it is that allows him to multi-task? You could make a fortune!

Rita Horiguchi, writing as Rita St. Claire said...

Fun article, Lois. I enjoyed reading it. And yes, though I'm still crazy about my husband after all this years, he certainly cannot multi-task!

Christine Clemetson said...

Great article Lois and so true!