Friday, 22 March 2013

Multitasking? How silly!

We’re in the age of multitasking. To do a lot of different things at the same time, the more the better.
The housewives have been doing it for a while, with one child on the lap while scolding the other, and cooking lunch as well as thinking of a groceries list as they go along. This fashion took, and many practice it.
Housekeepers dusting off with one hand, while answering the mobile phone, do it. The intellectuals with their PC, TV, MP3 and cellphones, while attempting to erase any free space for any reverie, do it. Children switching from toy to toy, not to get bored, do it. Teenagers with their iPad, SMS, Playstations while they study for the following day’s test, do it. Those who believe in the benefits of physical exercise, walk kilometers on the treadmill or on the elliptical machine while watching TV, speaking on the cellphone, read reports or study subjects, do it. The executives with multiple cellphones: the company’s, the home phone, the one for the special clients, plus their iPads, and the notes passed along to their secretaries, do it. The politicians, also with multiple cellphones, their PC and innumerous aides, asking strategic questions, giving news concerning “pressing” affairs, or suggesting schedules for tomorrow’s meetings, do it. Journalists, salesmen, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, pharmaceuticals, policemen…almost everyone does it
So many people buzzing around in this cacophony of tasks, running like tired horses, without knowing or wondering about the purpose of the race. 
I usually say that these systematic oscillations between tasks are like walking in a zigzag, with successive refocusing periods, for every single task, which leads to more effort and inevitable fatigue.  Zigzagging takes longer than going in a straight line. Furthermore, one does not think straight, nor does one actually ponder on each subject. 
Would Da Vinci or Einstein have amounted to anything if they spent the entire day plugged to their mobile phones?
Meditation techniques, ever so popular nowadays, are meant to quiet our minds and focus our thoughts, which means an opposite perspective to multitasking. The issue at hand is that after a systematic bombardment of the brain and senses, people want to have a good night’s sleep because they are tired. 
Don’t fool yourselves; the brain is like a muscle: when the fatigue is too great, it cannot rest and…farewell Sleep! 

Sleep comes with tranquility, silence and comfort. 

Prof. Teresa Paiva
Lisbon, March 22nd 2013


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