Last week, the local news aired a story about a man who drove his car into the side of a passing train. According to witnesses, the lights were flashing and the guard arms were down, but the man couldn’t stop in time. Why? Because, also according to witnesses, the man was texting while driving. His 4-year old son was in the car with him. (Both were lucky to survive the crash.)I’m not going to comment or pass judgment on this incident. I think we have all made mistakes and have overestimated our ability to (successfully) accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously – although, maybe not with this disastrous of a result. (Am I the only one that has found milk in the cupboard and a cereal box in the fridge?)
I am saddened that we seem to have lost good sense and consideration for our own safety and that of our children and those around us. We’ve armed ourselves with too many gadgets that fill up every waking minute of our lives. We tout our multitasking abilities like a badge of honor. It makes me wonder if this behavior could be a factor in the rise of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) diagnoses. Could overstimulation in the environment contribute to such a diagnosis? I don’t know…
Here’s an anecdotal story on the subject. As a child, I could spend hours on any one task. I didn’t have my days scheduled to the max or activities to go to every night of the week (one benefit of being an introverted child, I guess.) When I was in college, I waitressed thirty-five hours a week, on top of my full course load. To get studying in, I walked around with flashcards, I read textbooks while I ate dinner, I studied during commercials (on the few occasions that I did watch TV.) The result? It took me years before I could just eat – and I still eat faster than I should. I get fidgety when I’m doing nothing because there’s so much to do. But relaxing really is doing something – it recharges the brain and body.
Studies suggest that multitasking may not be a good thing. Here’s a few articles I ran across: Multitasking can cause neurological damage, Multitasking may not mean higher productivity, and Multitasking adversely affects brain’s learning. Research studies validate the theory that we can’t do multiple tasks and do them well – something suffers. But still, we try.
So, do you prefer to multitask to the max or tackle one thing at a time? Or are you ambidextrous in your lifestyle?