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Friday, March 5, 2010

Is Multi-tasking Really Evil?

Most mothers, by necessity, have become expert multi-taskers.  Do we really have a choice?  Whether it’s at work or at home, something always needs to get done.  And we’re usually the ones expected to get it done.  So please don’t lecture me about the evils of multi-tasking.

I was talking to one of my friends this week (who is also a lawyer with three young children) and she told me she was feeling guilty.  Why?  She is confronting her multi-tasking addiction.  Just last weekend she received an article from a friend citing the negative impacts of multi-tasking on the brain.  Apparently, too much multi-tasking can induce self-inflicted Attention Deficit Disorder, and one study even claims that “workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.”  (Christen Rosen, The Myth of Multitasking, 20 New Atlantis 105,106 (2008))  That’s right, multi-taskers are right behind pot smokers.  Worse yet, right after she received the article, she went to church and her priest gave a lecture on the evils of multi-tasking!

Just what we need -- one more thing to feel guilty about.  Sure, multi-tasking is not ideal and there are times when we need to give both our families and our jobs our complete and undivided attention, but I’m just not going to apologize for multi-tasking in a high-tech fast paced world that demands my constant attention.
What do you think, is multi-tasking a necessary evil, or is it just plain evil?  (And please hold the guilt trips!)


Alison said...

I think there's a certain level of multi-tasking we all have to do to participate in life. But there's also a lot we tell ourselves we HAVE to do that is not true. We CHOOSE to do it.

The challenge is for each of us to define what HAVE and CHOOSE really means to us and live that out. It's for no one else to judge. The pit in my stomach or the pain in my chest from too much multi-tasking says it all.

Sharon said...

You tell 'em! I agree that multitasking is not ideal, but unfortunately these days it's a necessary "evil." :)