Look Ma, Two Hands

Several years ago, on a summer evening, I sat writing. My girlfriend at the time approached from behind and put her hands over my eyes, Guess-Who style. Her intent was playful but purposeful: The message was that I should stop working and spend time with her.

My playful response was to continue typing with my eyes obstructed, word after word, sentence after sentence, all mistake-free. How? Because I can type. I can type “correctly,” as in eight fingers on the home keys, adidas neo both thumbs over the space bar, eyes never on the keyboard, and so on. Why? Because I’m a writer, and that’s the efficient way to go about my business, of course.

My blind typing trick impressed her pants off — literally, I think (though that did me no good because I had a deadline, so kept writing all night).

I do have a point, even if it takes me 150 words to get around to relaying it: Despite the multi-tasking afforded by my one-handed-bottle-feeding trick (see “One Hand Left”), some tasks are still best performed with two hands. I can write an email while feeding the baby; I cannot write a chapter.

This led me to a recent epiphany that, when viewed in hindsight, should have been obvious. A key to better organizing my work-at-home-dad workday is that when I need to multitask, I should focus on tasks that actually are, by nature, better compatible with multitasking. Moreover (and this is the important part), I should save those tasks when I actually need to multitask.

An example is photo editing. (Yep, I’m also a photographer.) Culling a batch of images from a shoot can require considerable time, but in the digital world it’s really just a one-handed job. That’s a task I can work on while feeding the baby.

Another example is reading — emails, articles, et al. That, too, is a task I can complete while feeding the baby.

To edit photos or read while my daughter is sleeping or quietly entertaining herself with a bib is, in efficiency vernacular, a waste of time. During two-hands-available time, I should tackle tasks that require two hands: writing, researching, packing camera bags, cleaning lenses. During one-hand-available time, I should be photo editing, updating software, nike cortez conducting phone interviews, catching up on social marketing.

(During no-hands-available time — such as when changing diapers — I can think, which is a huge step in the writing process. Seriously. A majority of my writing time is spent just pondering possibilities. But during no-hands-available time, usually I just exchange laughs and smiles with my daughter— that’s a far more important way to multitask.)

This compartmentalizing of tasks has been kind of a “duh” moment for me. But at least the moment came, and now I have more time to type things like “duh” — which, when done with sound technique, requires two hands.

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