Several months ago, I read an article, How I Stopped the Multitasking Madness by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs claims that
“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 and overloading our circuits.”
My response to the article was something along the lines of, “Ha! Not me – I am great at multitasking and I don’t know how I’d function if I didn’t.”
One of the ways I thought I was being effective at multitasking was by making phone calls during my commute home from work – I scheduled appointments, touched-base with my husband, called my family and chatted with friends. Making these calls on my way home from work was a consistent, easy way for me to “catch up” on my responsibilities and nurture the relationships in my life.
While I had always heard about the dangers of driving while operating a cell phone, I permitted myself this luxury of efficiency, claiming that at least I didn’t TEXT while driving – now that was really dangerous! Nonetheless, when Maryland passed a new law prohibiting drivers from using a cell phone without a hands free device while operating a motor vehicle, I took the issue seriously.
To date, I have yet to purchase a hands free device for my cell phone – and the funniest thing has happened, in the absence of using my cell phone on my way home from work, I’ve had this time to think. Time to reflect on my day; time to envision the future – be it the evening ahead, the forthcoming days or infinity. It’s been down-time that I have not allowed myself before. And it’s great. I arrive home feeling less overloaded than I did before – even slightly refreshed.
I am not saying I won’t purchase a hands free device to use on my cell phone while driving – there will be times where it will be necessary – but I can finally see what Jacobs was talking about … that by taking the time to do one thing at a time, you’re able to more fully engage in the task – or experience – at hand.
Posted by: Suzanne Knizner, Project & Corporate Coordinator