I don’t catch Oprah much anymore these days. A busy schedule allows for little television time, and I’m addicted to the View, so that is my one show a day that I try to cram into an already out of control schedule.
Yesterday I taped Oprah when I saw the blurb about the story, which centered around a distracted mom. I didn’t know what the content would be, but I heard that it was about how moms should learn a lesson from this mother-a lesson to slow down.
While I will not go into graphic detail about this heartbreaking story, I will tell you the basics. The mother, a school administrator with two daughters, a woman who, like many mothers, leads a frantic type of life, was asked by her husband to take the youngest daughter to the sitter’s one morning. This was out of the ordinary routine, as the father generally handled this chore.
Not only was this a change in schedule but the mother was going back to work for the first day after summer break. When she got to the babysitter’s home too early, she drove on and stopped for doughnuts for the staff. The girl was asleep in the car. The mother ran into the bakery, put the doughnuts in the back of the van and then headed off for a day at work.
It was at the end of that day that a staff member saw the daughter in the car. Unfortunately, the daughter did not survive the heat, which had reached 100 degrees that day.
Now, without stopping to think about this story at this point, stop instead and think about your life. What is it that you have tried to multitask today? A phone call and making breakfast? A text message and driving? An email and a screaming, nursing baby? Putting on makeup in the car? Eating a bagel as you drive to drop your kids off before you head to work?
Were your kids beside you when you were taking on more than one task at a time? Were they in the tub as you ran out-just for a second!- to grab the ringing phone?
Are you really present in your life when you are present, or have you found that life is becoming a bit overwhelming and the only way you can handle everything at once is by doing everything-at once?
We all know that when we multitask our minds are never on one task – hence the term ‘multi’ task. What does this mean about how much we can really take in and remember? What does this mean about how much is getting through?
I found this article about multitasking, and loved this particular comment made by Dr. David E. Meyer, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Psychology Department. He said that since you can’t really do two things at once you are constantly shifting back and forth. Your brain has different channels for different processing tasks, so if you are trying to do something that is in the same channel as the other thing you are doing (such as a language task – writing an email and listening on the phone) you will have to shut one task off to do the other.