As I continued my journey into simplicity yesterday, I ran across an article in Real Simple Magazine from September. It was about the evils of multitasking. Hecky Darn, I always thought it was an attribute!
As I read the article, I was eating tuna salad, writing a thank you note, watching the news and intermittently talking on the telephone. I paused to sing along with an advertising jingle (for Wal-Mart) entitled “Do your ears hang low.”
Ironically, the article was entitled “Stop the Madness” and it described how multitasking has become a life and death problem.
“The culture of distraction is rewiring our brains, making us less happy, less able to connect with people and form a conscience.” Say what? So I have no conscience?, I thought indignantly.
The author, A. J. Jacobs, claims that as we toggle between one task and another – first the phone, then the e-mail, then vacuuming the living room with the dust rag in my teeth, then back to e-mail – each switch costs us a few milliseconds in start-up cost.
That got my attention – what with me being a life-long multitasker and all. Proud of it even. So I embarked on a new campaign I’m calling it “Operation Unitask.” I made a personal pledge to nix the multitasking if that’s possible at this late date (fifty something). I’ll even try to stick with one task longer than my typical 60 seconds.
I wrote on my hand in black magic marker “Focus on one thing at a time,” then hopped on the computer to record my earth shattering discovery. The phone rang, distracting me from my epiphany. I continued to concentrate on my writing while a friend began to list all the exciting things we could do this weekend.
“Uh, huh,” I responded absently as she discussed the Dolcimer Fair at Tishamingo State Park.
“Hold on,” I said. “Let me call you back in 30 minutes while I have my calendar in front of me.” I finished writing this blurb and got back with her, finally able to give her my complete attention. I gave myself a big pat on the back.
So I will hunker down and do my best to unitask today, but 1500 things are colliding in my brain trying to be first in line.