MBA Mommy

Part MBA, Part MRS, Part MOM…..All ME

Multi-tasking is making me stupid

Posted by mbamommy on April 8, 2011

I have always taken pride in the fact that I’m a multi-tasker.  Give me a million things to do in an hour?  Done.  Force me to take a day off and do nothing but sit on the couch?  Doesn’t even compute.  All my life, other people have marveled at how much I can accomplish in any given day.  The past few years are a huge testament to that.  In the last 6 years, I’ve bought a house, gotten married, switched jobs 4 times, sold a house, moved to NC, had a kid, had another kid, dealt with an autism diagnosis, moved to CO, sold a house….the list goes on.  And I can’t say that I’m much different than anyone else in this country.

I can get my kids up, fed, dressed, answer emails, get myself dressed, dog fed, answer emails, answer emails and get out the door in 1.5 hours and be 5 minutes early to wherever we needed to go.  It takes J at least twice that time and he always forgets something.

And, I used to take enormous pride in that. In keeping myself and my family on track.

What I didn’t realize was the toll it was taking on me.  I failed to notice the stress I was putting on myself and everyone else to go go go.  And, it was literally making me stupid.  I was so distracted with a gagillion other things I was starting to forget words.  I’d start a sentence, get distracted and stop talking.  I’d forget all sorts of words.  And not even big words like “vociferous” or “voluminous”.  No, I wasn’t that impressive.  I’d forget words like “car” or “bed”.  And, while I’d be able to get everyone out the door in record time, I’d do 50 more laps than need be in the kitchen because I was trying to do too many things at one time.  I’d have 5 different half done tasks going at all times.  And the draw of my blackberry buzzing only made it worse.

And then, 3 things happened.

First, someone gave me permission to be a few minutes late.  I mean, really.  When you have a 4 yr old and a 2.5 yr old, who the hell truly expects you to be 5 minutes early?!?  And, at the end of the day, the world is not going to come to an end if you arrive 5 minutes after the school bell.  I’m pretty sure you’re not even going to be the last person walking through the door. And, if you’re like me and you’re harried to get there 5 minutes early, that extra 10 minutes makes you feel calm, cool and collected.

Second, J and I went to the PEP conference (more on that in another post) in Colorado Springs this past weekend and he convinced me I should leave my crackberry at home.  Don’t worry folks, he still had his so if any distress calls came from the grandparents, we were on it (note: none came, score!). I started the weekend off counting how many times I had the urge to check it.  I think it was around 30 the first hour – once every 2 minutes.  I’m thinking that’s how a heroin addict feels coming off of heroin….well…minus the puking, sweats, headaches, visions, etc.  But, then, the urges became less and less and I started to feel free-er.  I was able to focus on the conference, myself and J so much more than usual.  And, we had an amazing time.  And, I felt smart again!  Whooo hoooo!!!!!

Third, I was trying to read an article online and realized my eyes were jumping all over the page and I hadn’t truly read anything!  If you had asked me what I had just spent the last 15 minutes doing I couldn’t have told you.  Not even the topic.  And it was one I CHOSE to read!

Well, that was it.  I was officially stupid.  I couldn’t retain anything.  I couldn’t learn anything.  And, I am NOT stupid.

So, I am officially rehabilitating myself.  When I catch myself wandering off, topic I re-read.  When I find myself stopping in the middle of a sentence, I stop everything else I’m doing, look at the person and try to salvage my comments.  I turn off my blackberry while I’m playing with the kids or making breakfast or getting dressed or whatever.  It’s not an easy feat but I’m pretty confident that slowing down and focusing more is going to be beneficial to my entire family.

Some call it mommy brain, some call it multi-tasking, some call it life…..I call it done.

What about you?  Are you a victim of multi-tasking stupidity?

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9 Responses to “Multi-tasking is making me stupid”

  1. Heather said

    I’ve actually read studies that have said that what we all call multi-tasking is actually impossible for your brain. It can’t actually do two things at the same time, but instead quickly switches back and forth, giving each task its millisecond of attention before it switches back. So (the article postulated) it’s actually *more* efficient to do one thing at a time before you move onto the next.

    Now…I don’t know if that’s possible, especially when you throw a couple of kidlets into the mix, but that’s what “they” said, and I thought it was interesting. The article also suggested that people’s stress levels might go down if they made an effort to do that “one thing at a time” route, kind of like you were just talking about.

    Good onya for putting down the Blackberry. I, too, am addicted to the little red blinking light! 🙂 xx

    • mbamommy said

      Heather, I’d love to read that article, can you post a link to it? I swear I’ll give it my undivided attention (haha). I’m all for reading anything that confirms that I’m truly not stupid. And, that by doing this I’ll actually alleviate my stress and be more efficient (I’m all about efficiency). 😉

      So….do you ever just sit there and check your b-berry even if the red light isn’t blinking? Ugh.

  2. N. Frances Moritz said

    It’s amazing what these “smart”phones do to us. I recently changed mine so it doesn’t beep when I receive e-mails (because we ditched the house phone, so I’m leaving my cell phone on overnight). It’s absolutely amazing how much less distracted I am during work because of it.

    I recently tried 24 hours offline, including leaving my cell phone turned off. What a blissful Saturday that was!

    • mbamommy said

      Yeah, the forced ‘off the grid’ weekend was fantastic. And, I tried silencing my phone but I still look at it. Maybe even more because it doesn’t buzz now. I wonder if there’s a CBA (Crack-Berries Anonymous) meeting I could attend? 😉

  3. Tia said

    This is so totally me, even the checking email when my phone has not given a signal that a new email has arrived. My vocabulary and ability to retain information has suffered immensely over the last couple of years. When my mom asked me to recall when Lucas learned to crawl, I broke down in tears because, just a few short years later, I really have no idea. I love the “one thing at a time” rule, I really need to implement that, I think it will be a game changer, especially at work…as I write this, I must have 20 other windows open!

    Thanks for the great post, as always! You are always writing exactly what I am thinking! Hope you are well in CO.

    • mbamommy said

      Tia, the other day I caught myself opening up more windows to get more things done while waiting for something to load. So, I timed the load time, it was less than 30 seconds. Really? I couldn’t wait 30 seconds to complete the task I was trying to do? Sadly, I didn’t come back to it for a half hour and that was only because I was getting ready to shut down and the window popped up…reminding me what I originally logged on to do. *groan*

  4. abram said

    This describes me exactly! I’m a guy with no kids though, so I don’t think it has anything to do with multi-tasking, blackberries, or kids. I think the real reason is anxiousness and a hyperactive brain. That’s why I try and multi-task so much, cause my mind is going miles a minute. What bothers me is how often I feel mentally fatigued– like the feeling you get after reading for a long time– and how I literally have no detailed memories of any point in my life. People always talk about how we did this and how we did that, or ‘remember the time?’ and I have no idea what they are talking about. And it’s my life they are remembering!! And yes, when I sit down to read my eyes just bounce around anxiously on the page and when i am all finished I’ve retained nothing. Quite frustrating.

    I’ve been trying to not think so much, to release all the anxiousness and tension and just ‘be’. Not think about past or future, but be present. And instead of constantly creating thoughts, I let the outside world talk to me through my senses, and I listen. It’s so freeing and has been helping me so much. But I’m scared to let go of all my thoughts…and often I revert back ‘thinking’. If I sit with my legs crossed and think of nothing for 15 minutes I immediately feel ‘smarter’, more at peace, and am able to observe and remember the events of the day better. It’s like this: how can you remember what you read if you didn’t read it? So how can you remember your ‘life’ if your constantly thinking and worrying and ‘doing’, speeding along like a train on some kind of endless run-on sentence? Just relax and observe.

    • mbamommy said

      Abram, meditating, even 5-10 minutes a day has helped me immensely. I still run around like crazy most of the time but I’m able to catch myself much more often and remind myself to breathe and ‘be’. Amazing how little we focus on such an integral part of ourselves.

      • abram said

        thanks! glad to know there are others who feel the same way, and who’ve stumbled on the same ways of getting around it!

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