Last Thursday, I got on to one student for reading the newspaper while I was teaching, and another for text messaging. They both swore on everything that’s important to them that of course they were LISTENING. Yeah, right. It’s pretty apparent that it doesn’t truly work, what’s more challenging to figure out is why multitasking is so popular. Read on and discover.
This is what Jim Loehr, professional sports trainer and author of The Power of Story, argues that being fully engaged in what you’re doing is the polar opposite of multitasking. He writes:
It bears noting also that one’s memory of, and joy in, accomplishing the multiple tasks that make up multi-tasking can never, cumulatively, compete with the memory of and joy in fully engaging in onthing alone….A distracted artist will not produce anyting of real worth. An entrepreneur with scattered thoughts will not come up with solutions superior to the competition’s (155).
And this is what Atlanta-based healing chiropractor Guy Gunter wrote about it in his latest monthly newsletter:
A point of pride among us these days is MULTI-TASKING. I find that those who are a bit younger than I (like almost everyone), are positively addicted to multi-tasking. They brag about driving and texting, even using laptops and now that cellphones have become internet/entertainment devices there is even more to do at the same time. College students are writing papers online, doing research, studying a foreign language and emailing their buddy-list friends at the same time.
I found some interesting studies in October that confirm what us older people had intuited: multi-tasking dramatically reduces your efficiency and eliminates any long term memory of what you just did. In fact, driving while using a cell phone produces a driver whose reaction time and driving judgement were the same as if they were legally drunk. And yes, dialing is the most dangerous activity you can perform while driving, except for texting. The study did not include texting because the researchers did not believe people would attempt it when they began the study. It was added later from motor vehicle collision data. Another somewhat comical image came from Emergency Room physicians who have seen a dramatic increase in walking-while-texting accidents. Their recommendation? Stand still when using your phone.
So doing more than one thing at a time is neither more effective or more successful than linearly performing tasks one at a time. So how did this become so de rigeur? It stimulates your dopamine receptors. Just like alcohol, drugs, sex and laughter, multi-tasking gives you a high. In our pedal to the metal, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes adrenalin junkie society, multi-tasking is a mind-altering high that is drug free and provides the illusion that one is being productive.
In order to survive by being efficient, the answer is not multi-tasking. The secret lies in organizing.
Perform you tasks in order of priority as determined through organizing your activities, but do them one at a time. It takes less time to get all of them accomplished, your work is of higher quality and once they are finished you can feel the high of a job well done. Then you can linearly and with intent and focus go get a beer and get high as God intended.
Dr. Guy T. Gunter BS, MS, DC. You can access his website here. He’s based in the Roswell part of Atlanta.
As the erudite expression goes, “Git ‘er done.” One thing at a time.