Confessions of a Multitasker

One of my biggest gripes these days—and I know I’m not alone—is when other people multitask. Whether it’s mid-conversation, and I can hear them typing in the background, or mid-meal, and they’re checking their Blackberries, I feel it’s rude and ruins the quality of time we’re spending together. But, I’m ashamed to admit that I might be guilty of a slightly different kind of multitasking.

When I have people over to my home, whether it’s for a brunch or a dinner, I always hop up to clear the plates when the meal is done. Inevitably, some other kind soul will take that as her cue to help, to which I always shriek, “Sit down, I’m just getting these out of the way.” Because, in fact, I really don’t want anyone to help me clean up; I’d rather my guests stay at the table and keep enjoying the conversation. 

But then, I’ll admit, I take it one step further: I start to wash the dirty pots and load the dishwasher. I should mention that my kitchen is an open one, so I can still hear the conversation going on at the dining room table (or even the living room, if people have migrated there). But still, the guests always yell, “Julie, sit down! Leave that for later.”

I understand that these cries of protests stem mostly from their desire to relieve me of clean-up duty. But ironically, it actually helps me relax, knowing that I’ve gotten a jump-start on the disaster area that is my kitchen. And as multitasking sins go, this one seems like a victimless crime! However, I’m aware it might actually be rude for me to leave the party, and make others feel bad about having fun while I’m doing battle with a greasy pan in the kitchen.

So: Do I need to leave the clean-up for later and rejoin the party? Or is it okay to start scrubbing while the other guests mingle?