24 Aug 2015

Women: Multitasking, Their Best Best Skill Of All

erwin blumenfeld photographing for vogue in 1950 multi taking, vicki archer

Women have an incredible talent.

It is often underrated and goes unnoticed but I believe it is not only genius but also unique.

We are superb at multitasking.

The ability to multitask is one of the great differences between men and women.  We have an innate ability to divide and conquer on a number of levels at the same time.

Is it a question of necessity?


We are able to take on distinct roles and at the same time deal with them accordingly. We may not make a conscious decision to multitask but as women we often find ourselves with little alternative. How often have you been travel planner, administrative assistant, chauffeur, businesswoman and hostess at any one time? I have.

Or is it an intrinsic part of our make up?

Perhaps women are born with this wonderful skill.

Women seem able to duck and weave with ideas, with responsibilities and with all that we love to do. I find it incredible how the brain allows me to move rapidly between “worlds” and become one with all of them. I don’t think men are as flexible. From my experience, they generally chose to proceed one by one, systematically and in a controlled order; finishing one before commencing another.

Makes sense, but it’s not how we women roll.

How often can you watch the television, message on your phone, apply a beauty treatment and at the same time be mentally elsewhere? Bingo, that is a woman. Welcome to our world. We can hold multiple conversations and keep hold of the drift without blinking an eye. Our brain seems to love these distractions and the more multi the tasks, the better we become.

Compartmentalizing ideas is our forte. Working on varied agendas at the same time is our special skill and where we come into our own.

Don’t you think we are talented? xv


image, erwin blumenfeld vogue in 1950

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Hi Vicki,

Have to disagree here. I’ve been working in high tech for … well, quite a while, and multitasking used to refer exclusively to the processes made by computers! It has become some weird sort of “skill” associated with people who can “do it all” whether men or women, and is often used as a virtue in job interviews. I just don’t like the association with machines, so I prefer to use the verb “juggle” as more appropriate, especially in this context. When you watch a juggler, you see one ball at the top of the arc free of the hands that hold it. This signifies, to me at least, that the things that are under my control may be delegated, left on their own, or otherwise monitored until they come back to me again to resolve. A computer doesn’t take a break, everything is being worked on constantly. When does the computer pause and have a mojito??!!

Love your site, photography, and your perspective, appreciate you reading this!

Mimi Gregor

Yes, I multi-task all the time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I do any of the things that I am doing as well as I would if I were devoting all my energy to it. However, since I have x amount of things to do in the course of a day (which is still only 24 hours!), multi-tasking is the only way I can accomplish all that I have on my to-do list and still have some time to myself.

My husband, otoh, is much more focused about doing a single job well. Even as we speak, he is out in the garage detailing one of the cars. On cleaning day, he cleans the bathroom and kitchen, while I do the rest of the house. Believe me, I have the better end of the deal, because the bathroom would not be as spotless if I were to do it.

I don’t think that being able to multi-task makes us better in some way. In fact, I rather envy my husband’s ability to focus intently on one thing.


Not better… but I do think women on the whole are fabulous at multitasking… and it is not always easy… so I do believe it is a talent… :)


I agree, Vicki, that we women CAN multitask well. It’s how we accomplish what we need to do. I have read recently that actually, multi-tasking is not healthy for us. So trying not to do one hundred things at a time any more. {just 10 or so!}


I totally agree that, in general, women multi-task much better than men. However, now that I am getting older and my kids are grown and out of the house, I have much less need for multi-tasking, and in fact, I am learning that I do better and enjoy more when I focus on one thing at a time.


Hi Vicki,

I believe you are dead on regarding the difference between women and men on this issue…I am a perpetual multi tasker which seems to drive my CPA husband crazy…because he is so linear in his approach…and being a decorator, I do many things simultaneously ….sometimes too many !!!
always look forward to your wit and inspiration, Lois


I do suspect it is because historically we women raise the children – you have to multitask when looking after little ones in particular, not to mention puppies and escaping rabbits….


Hi Vicki, well I certainly feel like I am always multi-tasking. Handling the blog, the family, friends, household, and TRYING to take care of myself!!

The Arts by Karena
Artist Alex Katz

Anita Rivera

Good evening dear Vicki! My morning routine was shifted a bit this morning since today was my first day back to school! I need to get used to this now, going back to work!

I BELIEVE we are special. We are gifted I believe, to care for others WHILE we can care for ourselves. Sometimes that can be overwhelming, but I think it may be in our DNA. Whatever the science, my heart tells me that being creative, caretakers and life-changers are part of a woman’s LOVE for life. Yes, we can and do change the world. (lovely photo!)

Barbara Pelletier

I’m very good at multi-tasking, which as a teacher was an asset. However, I too have read it is not good in the long run: it seems it may be one of the reasons women have a higher rate of Alzheimer’s.
Sorry to burst your bubble.


Agree, most women tend to be very good at multitasking and we don’t only apply it at home with the many tasks there.
We tend to apply multitasking at work (more so than men in my experience). For example, I used to accompany delegations to international conferences as their adviser – most national delegations had male advisers – I was one of a relatively small number of women in this position.
While I was listening to simultaneous interpreting through my headphones and following the subject matter I was also keeping an eye on my delegation and making sure they didn’t get into trouble, eg clapping inappropriately (because they didn’t have their headphones on and wanted to be polite) at a speaker who was insulting one of our allies (or Oz); networking with key people from other delegations and observing the reactions of different national delegations to speeches on different topics of interest to us. Similarly when assisting our representatives on conference Drafting Committees I’d be following the discussion/negotiations and considering options for improved wording and structure to texts; watching the networking and body language of different members of the Committee; assessing their contributions to see if we could support any changes they proposed; looking for ways to build consensus for our national objectives; and, assisting our delegation representative if he or she were chairing the Committee. These are just a few examples of related multitasking activities in part of my job. Intense concentration was needed of course. You couldn’t just drop off for a little daydream.
But I’m retired now and still going strong so I don’t think it hurt me. In fact I even enjoyed it at the time. Also enabled me to travel and get to know lots of interesting people, a few of whom went on to become Foreign Ministers or even Prime Ministers of their countries. Best wishes, Pamela


multitasking…at least in mind. Yes, the brain can move very fast but we have
only 2 hands. I always tried to do more than one thing at the same time but learned it is better to do one by one. For me it is more stress free and I can
be more focused what I am doing and enjoy it better too. Under the motto
“live in the present”.


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