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Multitasking or Focusing – do we have to choose between the two?

abimaster | September 21, 2010
Sarah West
Sarah West serves as A. Bright Idea's Government Public Affairs Specialist.

“OK, at 9:00 tonight we have to stop what we’re doing and talk about the wedding,” I said to my fiancée last night, who was studying the muscles of the shoulder online, in between refreshing the Oriole’s game to check the score, while he played with the cat. Meanwhile, I was breading a pork chop according to the healthy recipe I had pulled up on my laptop, holding a highlighter in one hand, ready for the proposal I was reading, all the while taking breaks to listen to the evening news and keep up on email. As the clock approached 11 p.m., I said we’re going to have to reschedule wedding planning to tomorrow night – he grunted his acknowledgement.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune “Researchers studied 1,100 workers at a British company and found that multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or losing a night’s sleep.”

Maybe that explains why I have completely expunged the process of long division from my brain?

In today’s media world, you have to multitask. There is no getting around it. According to a recent study by Ball State University,The average American spends more time using media devices —television, radio, iPods and cell phones — than any other activity while awake.”

I have found myself very annoyed lately by people who insist on vigorously thumbing through their Blackberry or iPhone while we wade through a lengthy conversation, peppered with “What was that you said?” or “Huh?”

Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy in our quest for constant information. Although the workload won’t change, our approach can. I felt refreshed today putting an actual pen to real paper to capture my “to do” list and stopped skimming my email to focus on a live conversation with a colleague and noticed not one “huh?” kept the conversation to a few minutes instead of several.

Although the mantra “one thing at a time” may be dead in today’s society, perhaps we can all at least try just two things at a time.

Now I’m going to go practice a few long division problems.

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