The Myth of Multitasking
I know that you have places to go and people to see, so let’s get right to it; multitasking is a myth, well, kind of sort of.
We have been told that we should be able to multitask; that if we can do multiple things at once, we’d be more efficient and we can then ---ta-da, do more with less.
Then we heard that women could multitask but men could not; I think that data came from my cousin Ricky or someone’s uncle Bubba. (In other words, “Here woman, look how special you are, you can do all of the work while we pay you less.”)
We then heard that no one could multitask, but the latest news is that only 2% of the population can multitask but 98% thinks they can.
So where did this popular myth come from? It turns out that multitasking is a computer function. Someone heard the word and said, “Hey, computers are designed like us, so we should be able to do it too. Coke bottles were designed after a woman’s curvy body, but I can’t pour Coca-Cola from my head.
The reason we can walk and chew gum at the same time is because we have created a cognitive script for it, any deviation from the script requires a rewrite.
We all think we can talk on a phone and drive a car, but the research shows that even when you use a handheld device, you are like a person who is drinking. If someone tried to take our cell phones from us, they’d have to pry it from our cold dead hands.
But, I have been working on letting go. The whole tinnitus thing I’m dealing with is forcing me to be more focused and therefore much more efficient.
I have always felt that I was one of the 2%. I can do multiple things and never miss a beat. When my kids were young and I had to travel for work, I would make 5 meals at one time while playing games with them in the kitchen. I could fold clothes and read them a story or wash dishes while writing a book. While I could go through the motions of doing all of this, and everything was done rather well, the truth is that they all could have been done better and more efficiently if I had taken my time and done things one at a time.
Your computer, the brain needs to receive a command and then it needs to shift from the previous task to start the next one.
We are so busy trying to keep up with our technology that we have failed to notice that we don’t serve it; it was designed to serve us and to give us more leisure time. I think you know that this has not happened. Instead of having more leisure time, we are now connected to our hand-held devices 24-7.
Remember the good old days when you left work and could not get back to it until you got back to the building. Then we had those 40lb laptops we carried home making us feel superior to the employees who were not important enough to get one. (How did we fall for that?)
Now the laptop is a slim pad and our cell phone enables us to take our work everywhere. We can even connect on a plane because we all got a collective memo that said everything must be answered within 24 hours. We have no idea what a true emergency is or when we should flag an email as urgent and by the way, if it’s urgent pick up a phone or swivel your chair around and actually talk to a person.
I had a point, and here it is; we are so busy doing so many things that nothing is really getting done.
Slow down, breathe, reread before hitting send. Eat your lunch away from a computer.
You will be amazed at how much more efficient, effective and in touch you become when you stop trying to multitask and start living the one life you have.
BE you, be well, be ONE
Bertice Berry, PhD.