June 28, 2011 by themommahen
Multitasking seems the obvious fix—let me just answer this email while I help with your homework! But here’s the scary research news: Minus a few freakish exceptions, most of us cannot actually multitask. Try to keep up a conversation with your spouse while scanning the BlackBerry, and empirical data shows (PDF) that you do both things poorly. And not only that: If you multitask constantly, your actual mental circuitry erodes, and your brain loses its ability to focus. (Same with sleep: Aside from a tiny minority of mutants, humans perform distinctly and progressively worse when they get fewer than eight hours a night. Go ahead and cry.)
This article explains a lot for anyone who is in or has recently been employed full time. I nodded my head in agreement through the entire article (warning, it’s a bit lengthy), but I especially like the paragraph on multi-tasking because I have always prided myself at being good at it. What parent doesn’t? But guess what? I’m afraid the husband is right. (Go ahead and celebrate, honey. This is your real birthday present.) I know I’m better when I’m able to focus. That doesn’t mean I can’t do more than one thing at a time, I just know I don’t do it as well as I would like to think I do.
Case in point, while I was typing this and talking to H#1 and 2 at the same time, their conversation eroded into hurt feelings. Oh well, that happens anyway these days. How are you at multi-tasking? Think you’re really good at it? Maybe we should ask those closest to us what they think…