Multitasking is A Bunch of Malarky
Hey all you multi-taskers out there. Yeah, I’m talking to you ladies and gents trying to juggle the email, laundry, mac and cheese on the stove and Martha Stewart-ing your table top within an inch of it’s life…guess what. You’re not multi-tasking. There is no such thing. So just give it up and do one thing at a time.
OK, maybe I’m talking to myself. Just a little bit.
Did you know that your brain cannot do two things at once. Oh, well, I’m lying a little bit. You can breathe while you cook dinner. Or you can pee while you check that e-mail. But try focusing on two things and once and your brain is actually serial tasking. It’s jumping from one distinct thought to the next very, very fast. But it’s not simultaneous.
Like when your kid watches TV while doing homework. He’s not actually doing two things at once…he’s doing homework for like 2-3 seconds, then his eyes take in the TV, then back to the homework, back to TV. Jump jump jump.
Or so it is according to Dr. Jim Taylor who has a new book out called Raising Generation Tech. In his book, he sights this exact experiment done with a group of students. When asked how many times students looked up at the TV within a 1/2 hour, they responded that they looked up 15 times.
The researchers who tracked their studious eyeballs counted 120 times. That’s a pretty big difference! And all that jumping around isn’t great for knowledge retention. I’m just saying.
Now I know most parents don’t typically think watching TV while doing homework is the best idea. But think of this, most kids these days (BTW, I love how I just generalized all our children, as if they are all the same!) do their homework while some other screen is in front of them: iPhone, iPad, computer, TV, or even music. Always checking in, checking up. Add all those distractions together and there is no way homework wins.
My point is this: there is a time and place for all of the
distractions fun we have in life, and if we could just slow down and do one thing at a time, our brains would be happier. Maybe we’d even be happier. Possibly smarter. That’d be a good thing.
The takeaway for me, aside from pondering my own media policy for my children so that it benefits THEM and not ME, is this…doing everything at once is accomplishing nothing. Except guilt. Multitasking is great at sharpening my guilt sword.
What do you think? Are you a multitasker? Is it working for you?
photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com