Multitasking Mayhem

Somewhere around 3pm this afternoon, after too many (or not enough) cups of coffee, I realized i was multitasking like a mad woman. Cleaning up my iPad:synching, deleting, installing (and learning) new post-processing photo software in preparation for using the iPad for travel photography. Experimenting with a new camera. Making food (from scratch) for the dogs. Keeping an eye on email and Facebook. Taking the dogs outside. Or cleaning up after the elderly dog who no longer seems to have much discernment around outside vs. inside. I mean, I know its Arizona, and its hard to tell the difference sometimes, but still. Paying bills. And somewhere in there, making more coffee and something that looks like lunch.


Multitasking. And after a few moments of multitasking more by thinking about multitasking, I found myself wondering if we are really any where near as effective as we think we are when we are doing a gazillion things at once. The term originated, I believe, in computing as a term that meant a singe CPU could perform two (or more) tasks simultaneously. Humans don't task simultaneously. We switch our attention - however quickly - from one thing to the next, meaning nothing really gets our full attention. No wonder its so exhausting. 

I've always prided myself on being fairly organized and capable of accomplishing many things "at once." But today I started wondering when that computer term became so routinely applied to humans.  

When i was in school - eons ago - we were "trained" to pay attention and focus. We were expected to do that, not to flit from one task to the next and back again in some dizzying roulette of "did i actually get anything done?!" It makes me wonder if there's a connection between the rise in ADHD and the push to multitask along with the vast over-stimulation of computers and television and electronics. No wonder our brains are never quiet anymore, we no longer teach our children that its ok to seek quiet, that its ok to do just one task at a time, that its ok to focus. 

I suppose the large doses of Cafe du Monde coffee i poured into my system today didn't help.