I love multi-tasking and, um, what was I saying?

The three books I’m currently reading about 1) how the brain works, 2) being more effective at work and home, and 3) the discipline of getting things done, all say the same thing:  only do one thing at a time.  Phhh.  What do they know?

Actually, I think they may be on to something.  The last two weeks have been the start of school(s) and that meant both the boys high school and the seminary.  It has been a rush of info literacy, library tours, and bookmark passing out.  I guess the books are on to something, because no matter how well I plan, I feel slightly ineffective.  My blog posts have been so-so and one of the many library tours I gave consisted of me standing in the stacks and saying “All the books about God are to my right, all the books about things not related to God are to my left”.  Scarily, this seemed sufficient for the group of 14 year old freshmen to whom I was speaking.

This whole don’t-multitask-and-become-more-effective thing seems counter-intuitive to me, and pretty much for my entire generation.  We’re the same kids who have  taught ourselves to IM while watching TV, eating dinner, texting our friends and flipping through a magazine (which I caught myself doing last week).  But I’m willing to try a new phase of monotasking to ease the ever present feeling of nervous energy.  Wasn’t I the same blogger who was complaining about people needing to slow down?

So, I’m curling up for my Sunday evening and going to read about how I shouldn’t be multi-tasking.  I will try to remember that I wrote this post and report back on what I learn.  Writing it down on my brand new list of “action items”.


3 responses to “I love multi-tasking and, um, what was I saying?

  1. I always confuse myself when I’m going through the day’s RSS news while listening to news podcasts. My mind goes in two directions. I’m telling you, I’m gonna’ pass out due to a news overdose one day.

  2. I can walk and listen to a book on cd on my mp3 player at the same time. Other than that, when I multi-task I make mistakes. Which is all the time. Gotta go – the dryer just buzzed.

  3. Humans fill in missing details by making assumptions. That’s a good thing when it allows making a decision where a machine cannot for lack of details. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details. When multitasking, it is not only easy to lose track of some of the details in a few of the tasks, but there is often no recognition that those details have been lost. Wrong assumptions can take the place of those lost details. When it turns out that a lost detail was of importance, the result is a mistake in that task. As for walking and listening to a player at the same time, I read about a case like that a while back in the local newspaper. Not that a zombie kid is unusual, but this one made the papers by being killed by a train. An autobiography that I found useful: “Fate is the Hunter” by E. Gann. Multitasking with a dangerous task can be lethal. Sometimes what we call “accidents” are really crashes caused by fate. Beware of distracted drivers.

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