Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Efficient, or not so much?

I have a sweet friend who always asks me how I get so much done in a day. My answer is always that I don't know, but I'm usually doing two or three things at once.... and that I'm extremely tired at the end of the day.

I was reading last night September's issue of my favorite magazine (truthfully, the only magazine I subscribe to that I read from cover to cover) and I found a fabulous article that got me thinking. It's by A.J. Jacobs and it's called, "Stop the Madness! One man's quest to go from manic multitasker to zen unitasker in one month flat."

Could multitasking really be madness???

An interesting quote from the article: "I've been reading a bunch of books on multitasking. It's really a life-or-death problem--no exaggeration. The culture of distraction is rewiring our brains, making us less happy, less able to connect with people and form a conscience. Multitasking makes us feel efficient. But it's an insane delusion; it actually just slows our thinking down. Our brains can't handle more than one higher cognitive function at a time. We may think we're multitasking, but we're really switch-tasking. Toggling between one task and another. First the phone, then the e-mail, then the phone, back to the e-mail. And each time you switch, there area few milliseconds of start-up cost. The neurons need time to rev up."

Is it true??? Am I really wasting time by trying to be so efficient???

It all makes sense... and yet I still feel that I must do more than one thing at a time, or I will waste my life away, despite the milliseconds in start-up costs.

I believe I will continue to listen to a book on CD on my drive to work.

I'm sure I will still fold laundry and iron (hate ironing!) while watching TV.

I'll probably still take a book or magazine to the kid's swimming lessons and glance up to see their wonderful progress every few minutes.

I'm sticking to my program of reading the Book of Mormon while I blow dry my hair.

I'll still make phone calls while I'm doing my 30 minutes of Healthy Lifestyle walking at the park near my clinic.

I just might soak up a few rays when I'm relaxing at said park and eating my lunch after my walk.

I'm convinced that even while I am paying attention to my cute Coleman and Olivia I might sneak a peek at my email, just to see if any of you make any fun comments on this or any other blog post.

And I will do my best to carry on a decent conversation with Ryan while we cook or wash dishes together.

But for now, I think I'll go snuggle up in bed and read the fabulous book I'm reading without trying to do anything else at all (except maybe eat a piece of dark chocolate here and there).

(I think I should admit that I took a break from the following tasks to do this blog post: Sharing a cute font with Ryan for his Court of Honor, commenting on peoples status updates on Facebook, chatting on Facebook with a friend, watching this hilarious mash-up video, and staring at my several loads of yet to be folded laundry trying to figure out if I could possibly type with one hand and fold with another... don't think that would work so well.)

**Are you a multitasker?


Cheri said...

This is SO what I needed to read today (and I just subscribed to this magazine - I got a year for $5!)!!

I'm am such a multi-tasker that it makes it so I get nothing done. I was telling a friend today that I took 4 pieces of clothing out of the washer, put them in the dryer, then thought of something else I needed to do, walked away from the laundry, and then recognized my ridiculousness and went back to it. But that is SO my life - constant multi-tasking and distractions. I need to tone it down.

Linn said...

I'm thinking I need that magazine--and I definitely am a multi-tasker. Insanely a multi-tasker. I'm not sure I could ever get away from it completely, but your great post has caused me to want to change something on a daily basis to concentrate more on one thing. Thanks cute friend!

RyanH said...

Three cheers for Rickvana... and I've heard that about multi-tasking also... I am just not sure if I buy into the whole thing yet... maybe it's just THEM that can't multi-task :)

lArZ said...

I'm with ya Lisa, I like to multi-task. I thought that's what women naturally do. I still feel (somewhat) sane while I juggle typing, talking on the phone, feeding Mikkie and glimpse at the movie running on behind me. I think it's an art to do multiple things at once. =)

Christy P. said...

Oh the things that I have done while nursing...can't wait until this baby is older and I can fold laundry while nursing instead of holding his head! Folding laundry one handed is not really feasible. Typing, on the other hand, I am pretty good at.

Off topic, if I could have one robot for my house, it would be a laundry robot. I think I ironed last year but am pretty sure I haven't this year, except for my gown for the U's graduation ceremony.

Sara White said...

How do you read the Book of Mormon and blow dry your hair at the same time? I keep trying to picture it and it isn't working....

Kristi said...

Phew...I just got worn out by reading all that! You are amazing. I'm impressed that you can read the BOM while blow-drying your hair...that takes talent!

Heather said...

I'm only happy when it rains and I am only happy when I am getting lot's of stuff done at the same time. Granted it would take the same amount of time to do one task at a time but I have to do many or I would forget the ones that I needed to do. If I do them all at once, at least they get done in some form or another. I too though am wondering how to blow and read at the same time. :)

Kristy said...

I am a multitasker but I am not convinced it makes me super efficient. I am trying to simplify all the time.

emilyw said...

This post made me laugh! It's great to see that there are so many of us out there! Is it just me or do women seem to bring on multiple tasks more often than men?

Fame said...

ya- i'm a multi tasker :) i teach junior high- comes with the territory. but i was thinking about what you said... i think it depends on what you're multitasking. does it take the same amount of deep thinking to iron and watch tv at the same time? no. but carry on a meaningful conversation while texting? yes. so.. hmm... i'll have to think about it some more.

KM said...

This post is funny because I'm sure nearly every woman out there can relate and agree to being a victim of multitasking. I could agree with you on each point---I too, read the BOM lots while blowdrying my hair, talk with Chris while washing dishes and preparing dinner, all that. Some things in our lives are worth doing all at once. Some other things, deserve careful and singular attention (like our kids:))..

Great post lisa!

Janene said...

I'm going to buy that theory... I multi-task, but I wish I'd stop. So as soon as I'm done feeding Sean and catching up on blogs (a la vez), I'm going to just read my book. I can't wait.

Booklogged said...

Being a mother and a teacher for upteen years I have had to be a multi-tasker and, YES I think it takes a toll. I don't think muti-taskers concentrate as well. We don't focus and ponder. We tend to be task oriented and fail to stop and listen to the birds sing, or watch the trees swaying in the breeze or appreciate the simplest pleasures of life.

I know I didn't enjoy my own children as much as I am my grandchildren because I stop what I'm doing and listen/interact with my grandchildren. Maybe that's why there are grandparents to give that attention that parent's are too tired, too stressed, too unfocused to give.

Just look at what is required of parents - an it's more than it was just 10 or 20 years ago. Now you have to have a job, look like a model, keep a spotless, gorgeously decorated home, have all the latest & greatest technology, prepare gourmet meals, read the scriptures, keep the laundry done, read a million books, etc. etc. I don't think you have to worry about mending, though. I didn't feel the pressure to work, but I might have if I was a young mother today. Don't you have to do a certain amount of multi-tasking to get even part of that done?!

I think the key phrase is, "Our brains can't handle more than one higher cognitive function at a time." Folding laundry is not a cognitive task and can easily be done while watching tv. Listening to a CD and driving are both cognitive, but you can shut out that CD in a second if your driving requires it.

How many of us are guilty of multi-tasking during the sacrament? Even with the help of reading a hymn our minds wander to our schedules, what to fix for dinner, what did that Sister mean by that comment, is my husband as angry as he looks, how do I end this sentence?

Oh, yikes! I've rambled on and on and probably not made a lick of sense. What can I say - it's all those years of multi-tasking.