An attitude of hoarding in an environment of chaos results in some terrible consequences. Many of us turn to multitasking and technology as a way of dealing with the frenetic pace and disorganization of our lives. Even though we convince ourselves that we’re being more productive when watching the news, cooking dinner, answering emails and making phone calls all at the same time, experts say that’s not true. This further disorients you as you try to multitask your way through the stress of multiple and complex demands on your time, energy and attention.
How are you supposed to give an appropriate amount of attention to the priorities in your life without your ability to focus? Multitasking people everywhere are trying to find their things just to rush to an appointment they are already late for; and possibly hurting their ability to concentrate during meditation, ritual and other important spiritual work.
The New York Times reported in June of 2010:
Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.
The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks…these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.
While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress. And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.
It would seem in our struggle to do so much with limited time that people are seriously harming their abilities to concentrate; likely resulting in declining abilities in creating success for themselves. We would benefit from “unplugging” one or several days a week to give our brains a rest from the constant barrage of information.
ETA: You can read the full NYT article here with links to the research supporting the claims.