How did this happen?

Posts tagged ‘Multi-tasking’



Not a word that you use just every day.

But, I know you know what it means.  Just think squat-bodied room fan whirring in the corner blowing papers off the desk , ruffling the retriever’s coat,moving onto pushing the dust bunnies under the sofa.  Got the picture?  Yep, oscillating– to move from side to side rhythmically or to waver from one extreme to another. 

I bring up this fun-to-say word, oscillating, because I heard a podcast wherein renowned neuroscientist Richard Davidson noted that people don’t really multi-task; instead, they oscillate.  Davidson contends that the brain is not really handling multiple tasks at once.  Rather the brain, like the oscillating room fan, is moving from one task to the next never pausing long enough for something drastic like, coherent thought.

That explains why my life as a mulit-tasker, I mean oscillator, is sometimes fraught with mishap.  Like the time I threw away my car keys while depositing the water bottle in the drink holder, moving the trash container to the curb and adjusting my I-pod.  For a brief shining moment, I knew that my key ring should stay hooked to my index finger but that was before the cranium wavering blew my focus to my untied sneaker.  Without that cool breeze of attention, the car keys were dropped onto the discarded meatloaf inside the 3-ply trash bag stuffed at the bottom of the maroon trash bin .

 Davidson’s explanation of brain function relieved my guilt at being a failed multi-tasker.  So, the next time I forget who I called because I was put on hold and began humming along with the Barry Manilow instrumental, I’ll just say, “Pardon me, I was oscillating.”


Focusing on Multi-Tasking

 I’ll be honest.  Focus has never been my strong point. 

When I was younger, I loved restaurant dining because I eavesdropped on so many great conversations while listening to what was going on at the table where I was seated.  Well, sorta listened.

As a random thinker, I was so pleased when the term multi-tasking was created to legitimize my penchant for chasing numerous shiny objects simultaneously and catching none.  But, if I claimed I was multi-tasking, I sounded sophisticated and overworked rather than clueless and disorganized. 

Early in my marriage, my husband figured out that my multi-tasking occasionally led to disastrous results including saucepan bottoms burned off when I forgot about the water boiling for tea on the electric range. 

But as a young mother and working wife, this talent for multi-tasking became an asset, if not a necessity.  I could drive the kids to baseball practice, plan the next day’s meeting, and grade papers all within the space of a coffee break. 

Oh sure, there were still occasional mishaps when  I was trying to talk on my early 21st century handheld speaker phone while  driving my stick shift and drinking Slim-Fast.  That was one of those “I really didn’t want to wear this outfit, turn around to home days.”

But now that I can euphemistically call myself a mid-life boomer, multi-tasking seems to be a practice that I should shed like those extra wavers attached to my upper arms.  Focus is advised by the aging brain expert.  And, I have noticed more gas tank caps dangling for miles, credit cards left to be shared by all at the checkout stands, and water running on the locust tree overnight or several nights if truth be told. 

So, I’m focusing on focusing from now on.  Consequently, I’ll end this so that I can text a message before the car needs to be shifted into third and my latte gets too cold.