Remember when I said last week, “Multitasking is a myth! It doesn’t work! Seriously, the brain can only concentrate on one cognitive task at a time – really! It is time to embrace this fact and stop the madness.”
Multitasking is all about distraction. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, we allow ourselves to become distracted by whatever grabs our attention in the next moment. Just think about what happens when you decide to check your email for an important message that needs your attention. How often do you find yourself getting lost in the labyrinth of competing emails instead. That’s not multitasking – that’s distraction!
The multitasking bugaboo that is of greatest concern today is … (drumroll, please) … using a social media device while driving – texting, checking, talking. Sorry, folks, but it just doesn’t work! While you spend those few cognitive seconds focusing on that device, your vehicle is moving down the street unattended. My suggestion is to keep that device in the back seat. If it goes off, pull over, stop, and focus on the task at hand – attending to your device.
Ooh, okay, let’s take this a step farther. Tomorrow is Labor Day, right? That’s the national holiday where we take a break from “laboring” to honor all who labor for a living. (There’s a tribute to labor unions in there, too). So, if Labor Day is about celebrating working by not working, then I suggest we celebrate it by monotasking.
Perhaps, we could focus our Labor Day activities without those “multitasking” social media devices. Seriously, just turn the things off and focus on interacting with the people you can see around you. Strike up face-to-face conversations, share stories, play games, visit someone in need of your attention, relax and experience the world with your own senses. No matter what you choose to do, “monotask” it without letting yourself get distracted.
For a few moments tonight, I have been focusing on this article and pushing all the other tasks clamoring for my attention to the background. When was the last time you lost track of time doing a particularly interesting and engaging project? Now that was effective monotasking!
Willie Braudaway strives to make life better as a librarian, genealogist, and member of various community organizations. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.