Movie B-School: Multitaskin’ Tootsie

3 minute read

Dustin in drag…the best kind of Dustin. Hoffman had already been a star for over a decade when he donned a dress for comedic relief. Tootsie is a serious drama at its core, all covered in warm and gooey comedy, seamlessly blending the two. It’s a great film, and there’s a reason they study the script in film schools, after all.


Hoffman plays an actor struggling and constantly losing out on acting gigs, but finally finds success when he auditions for a female role on a soap opera as a rather homely lookin’ lady named Dorothy. The soap loves s/him, and paves the way for some Mrs. Doubtfire-style costume change screw-ups (before we knew who Mrs. D was). Dorothy becomes a huge sensation while Michael (Hoffman) falls for his co-star, leaving him running back and forth between genders. Wooing the girl as a boy, and wooing his audience as a girl leaves him trying to be in two places at once, which is what most of us are guilty of in business and in life.

Movie B-School: Multitaskin’ Tootsie I North by Northwest Boise

I multitask at home as much as I do at work, and I work twice as hard at it socially. While watching a movie I’m usually engaged in pinning future dinner recipes on Pinterest, all the while checking Facebook on my phone or figuring out what else this guy starred in through  IMDB. I’m a multitasker on steroids, especially with tasks that don’t really matter, and I bet a lot of you are in the same mindset as me.

A study provided by Hewlett Packard shows multi-tasking has recently been found to drop your IQ by 10 points and make you 40% less productive. It’s a temptation, though, and we all think it make tasks go quicker when it’s been proven not to. There’s the gospel: Don’t do it. “But how, Stephanie?” you may say. Breaking habits is a difficult task, but if Michael Dorsey can, then so can you, by golly.

Movie B-School: Multitaskin’ Tootsie I North by Northwest Boise

What are you gaining vs. losing?

Michael feels on top of the world as Dorothy – great job, admiration, but through his falling for Jessica Lange, realizes he’s losing himself and missing out on the woman he wants to be with. He decides to come clean. We need to come clean with ourselves and understand that trying to be in two places at once isn’t helping anyone. We’re less focused, more apt to making mistakes, and not really listening all too well. Who wants to hang out with that?

How can I get everything done if I’m not multi-tasking?

It’s simple – you may actually get more done. As aforementioned, you are 40% less productive while multitasking. The writer of a Harvard Business Review article on the subject states that when he went on a multitasking-hiatus, amazing things happened – he paid more attention to his family, no tasks were missed and he actually did a better job with difficult job items. He was happier, less stressed out, and more mindful of the way he spent his time.

Movie B-School: Multitaskin’ Tootsie I North by Northwest Boise

It seems to me that breaking the habit is a matter of wanting it. If you want to focus, you will. If you want to drop your IQ points by 10, then so be it. If Michael/Dorothy can quit cold turkey, methinks we can too.

(Images via, via, via, via)


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About the Author

Stephanie Norell is the Marketing Director for North by Northwest’s Boise office. She loves horror movies and Pinterest, adores the classic film Xanadu, and “enjoys” disseminating her thoughts for trolls to discuss online.


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