Technology has had a huge influence on our language in recent times. One word that now pops up constantly is “multi-tasking”. Some people are quite macho about the concept, and we see evidence of it on the highway in our cars, at home with our families and at the office on the telephone. The impacts of trying to multi-task are many:
- It increases errors and lowers our efficiency. Have you noticed how drivers who are talking on the phone do some very dangerous things? Our attention to detail is diminished when we have several things to focus on. It’s true that some of us have always been bored by “detail work”, but we must recognize that details can kill us.
- It is causing the disappearance of courtesy, good manners and family togetherness. Notice how you feel the next time someone puts you on hold to take another call, or how you become aware that the person on the other end of the phone is only half there because they are checking their e-mail. Notice how members of our family feel when we are not focused entirely on them when they want to tell us something important.
- It compromises memory. Our brain seems to have only so much RAM and when it’s full, things get shoved to the sub-conscious, only to be retrieved sometime when the item is not needed.
- It leads to health problems and stress. How many times do you dream about a problem you have been working on? How many nights do you experience anxiety because you didn’t complete something? How long can you sustain without quality sleep?
- It leads to brain rot (sic) It means we never seem to get any peace. Our bodies and brains were not designed for multi-tasking, and when we do engage in it, the body produces adrenalin when it shouldn’t be needed. This is how stress begins.
- It leads us farther into consumerism. We have to have all the latest technological toys and have to show how smart we are in mastering them.
Some ideas for finding some much needed peace
- Don’t ever drive and talk on the phone, even when the employer says you must be available at all times. (2014 update: this is finally illegal)
- Set boundaries around your use of cell phones and blackberries.
- Set out blocks of time for specific tasks and focus on one task at a time. Set boundaries around disturbances and interruptions.
- Take short mental breaks. Close your eyes, breath deeply and slowly. Take a cat nap.
- Exercise aerobically 2 -3 times per week.
- Drink lots of water. Dehydration causes a decline in cognitive ability.
- Take up meditation. This is a proven way to slow the brain and close out the world.
- Take a physical break every 90 minutes.
- When conversing with family, friends, colleagues, clients show that you care. Give them your undivided attention.