Tim Key: I've taken multitasking to a new level. Now I've got to work out if that's a good thing

 

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The Independent Online

Today, for the first time in my life, I ate my dinner in the bath.

Mmm. "I ate my dinner in the bath." I don't like the way that makes me sound. I want to try and justify it. But how? I suppose if I was being charitable, I'd say I was "multitasking". It's not a perfect defence, but I think it's the only one I've got. I was being efficient.

There's a lot of it about these days: multitasking. We live in a terrible century where there are too many texts coming in that require us to do something. There are things like meetings we have to go to, and reports we have to file, and important people we have to butter up. In addition, we still have to stay on top of the traditional tasks that people from other centuries would have had. In order to not be swamped by this abundance of horseshit we increasingly have to juggle more than one thing at a time. The idea is to get the same amount done, but a little quicker, and have a little more time left over at the end of the day for telly and Facebook.

Even in the last month I've multitasked tons. I've put all my receipts in order while simultaneously frying some red onions with garlic. I've telephoned my mother to congratulate her on Mother's Day while screwing a dartboard to a door. I've bought some two-way mirrors on eBay while Skyping my friend in Taiwan. In fact, I almost can't remember the last time I focused on a single task and completed it, before moving on to the next one. Put it this way: I'm currently trying to fix a puncture while typing this up.

"I ate my dinner in the bath," though. That feels like a game-changer.

"I ate my dinner in the bath". I think I should be feeling more ashamed than I am.

The funny thing is, I don't really see it that way. Hand on heart, I wouldn't say I really see much shame in the situation at all. I more see it as a tasty solution to a time-based conundrum. Namely, I was hungry and dirty and I had to be out of the house in 25 minutes. Once I'd had my Eureka moment, it felt like a no-brainer. I turned on the taps, whipped off my clothes and started piercing my lasagne's film with almost no shame at all.

As I sat there in the bath, forking mince into my mouth with one hand while massaging shampoo into my scalp with the other, I began to muse on how it had come to this. Years ago I remember bathtime being sacrosanct. The bath, for me, was always a place to relax, to retreat from the hell of modern-day life. A sanctuary. In the bath I would do nothing. Just lie there among its restorative fluids and muse upon what I had learnt that day. Once or twice I would twiddle the tap with my feet, splosh in a bit more hot water. And there I would lie for an hour or longer. Even in an age of multitasking, the bath remained a place for no tasks at all.

Then I began to take my phone in.

And then I began to eat biscuits.

And then, almost without knowing it, I became aware I was eating a delicious lasagne in there. It was a pinch-yourself moment.

But in a good way, I think. As I devoured the mince and scrubbed my bits, I glanced up at the clock. This was genius, I thought. I'd combined two classic chores. Eating and washing. Together at last. I was saving myself minutes.

And as I finished my lasagne and tossed my plate down on to my towel, I knew I'd be doing this again. I had a renewed hunger to multitask and I reached for my phone. I splashed my mouth clean and went to the notes section. Bathtime and journalism now. I blew my fingers to dry them, and I began mapping out a rough structure for this week's column.

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