I recently posted about the tragic death of a toddler who was left in the car all day when an overwhelmed mother forgot that she had taken the baby along with her that day. This event, and the story on Oprah, left me wondering for days, and watching for now over a week, about my actions.
How often do I try to do more than one thing at a time?
I say that I don’t believe in multitasking, and I don’t. I really don’t believe that you can do two things at once well. You always need to focus on what you are doing if you really want to do a good job. How great of a job will I do if I am watching television, working on a piece for work and trying to take a phone call at the same time? My brain can handle so much information. It can process only so much at one time. When I attempt to do too much, something has to go . . . it’s just a fact.
I posted about multitasking in that blog and a reader commented about the post. She found herself at the ATM machine one day. She had to use her phone to retrieve her password, but her phone was ringing so she couldn’t do the two things at once. This was while her children were screaming and grabbing her leg. She commented that the fact that our devices multitask may make it even more impossible for us not to multitask.
How true! Have you ever been working on something and been IMed? Then tried to communicate via IM while finishing up the report and emailing a senior officer at the company about something that had to be done? Right there your computer has you doing three things at once – and where is your attention as you are doing this? Are you completely paying attention to the email, or the IM, or the task at hand?
It seems as technology advances, it gets better and better at multitasking. Once upon a time a cell phone made a call. Remember those? Big and clunky, they almost resembled home telephones.
Now we can play game, check email, make a call, set up some appointments, check our calendar . . . all on this tiny device that fits neatly in our pocket.
Society, psychologists, life coach’s, and people who have been in our shoes tell us not to multitask. They tell us that we must slow down. We are doing too much, going to fast, and bad things happen when you don’t pay attention to what you are doing. It just takes a minute, after all, for a tragic event to occur because our attention is diverted somewhere else.
And yet scientists and engineers continue to develop devices that multitask. Or that allow us to multitask.
Perhaps we do need to slow down. We should definitely stop multitasking. But how is this possible when almost every technical device we use does eighteen things at once?