Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Multi-Tasker vs. Uni-Tasking

Yesterday, I wound up taking the van to the dealership because the key was once again stuck in the ignition. And while I was waiting and LG played Legos, I picked up a Real Simple magazine from a few months back and settled on reading an article about multi-tasking vs. uni-tasking. 
The author of the article made some pretty valid points about each.  He pointed out that while we think we are getting so much done by doing one, two or three things at once, we can accomplish the same tasks with more efficiency and precision in just a little more time.  And although we might think we are exercising our brains and have trained them to do multiple exercises at once, we are really hurting our brains.  By multi-tasking we are constantly making our brains switch gears something even switch sides of the brain and there is a lag time, however minute, we are leaving ourselves open to miss something in those nanoseconds are brain is switching and processing and transmitting signals. 

Ok, so you are wondering what my point is.  Well, frankly I just found it darn interesting.  He did an at home experiment with himself to reduce and hopefully quit multi-tasking.  He works from home so there's lots of distractions.  There would be no more, checking emails, watching the news, and eating breakfast at the same time.  No more talking on the phone, cooking, or playing with the kids at the same time. As he described the experiment, I thought about how much I multi-task and how I've always prided myself on my ability to do it so well.  As Mamaw knows I rare just sit down and talk when we are on the phone, I'm doing laundry, driving, breaking up a fight between the boys or changing bedsheets while we talk.  She's gotten used by my sometimes breathelessness.  But now I'm thinking of trying it old school style and doing one thing at a time.  Can I do it? 

Can I eat breakfast with the boys with out the computer in front of M.E., a magazine, or to-do list?
Can I actually stand in the kitchen and cook a meal without unloading/reloading the dishwasher, make a grocery list or leave the kitchen?
Can I give LG a bath and actually stay in the bathroom with him the entire time like I did when he was little and talk, sing or read to him while he soaks? 
This is not a novel idea, but one that I think I need.  Mrs. Can't-Say-No-&-Volunteers-4-Everything needs this.

I'm not sure how to start but I think its going to have its benefits now that I'm aware of the problem.  Isn't that have the cure, realizing there is a problem. So now when the Man tells M.E. he's probably going to work late as he's walking out the door in the morning, and I've got LG hanging on my leg wanting Dora on the tv, and I'm trying to flip two fried eggs in the pan for Buddy's breakfast without breaking the yokes or burning them, and I'm hearing the timer go off in the bathroom telling M.E. Buddy needs to be out of the shower.... I'm going to stop and focus and listen to my husband before I focus on the next task, I'm going to become a delegator of tasks so that each one gets done in due time and properly.  And then when the Man isn't home at 6 I'm not going to be upset that supper is getting cold because I will have already made plans around him working late.

I'm no longer going to try and have the Man look at something I've created during Sunday football, while his watching the tv, following stat tracker on the laptop and texting his brother  He'll be multi-tasking and will not focus and understand the significance of my creation and my feelings won't be hurt.

I'll let you know how it goes.

As for the author of the article, by the end of two weeks (during which point he actually tied himself to his office chair so he would focus on this work and not get up for at least 30 minutes and fell asleep half the time he tried mediation), he was able to sit down with his 3 year-old son and empty and refill his pig bank with pennies for fun. It might have took him 15 minutes or longer, but he was focused on the task and not only did he benefit from uni-tasking but his son gain even bigger benefits, his father's undivided attention.  Priceless.

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