While working on a story about mothers of multiples and a local organization called Miracle Bonus, it occurred to me how most parents have no choice but to learn the art of multi-tasking. It doesn’t really matter how many kids we have or whether or not we work outside the home, many of us struggle with the juggle.
The struggle isn’t always healthy, however.
Anne Tergeson, one of the reporters and bloggers for Business Week’s “Working Families” blog, wrote about the perils of multitasking in “Multi-tasking: A Coping Mechanism that Just Doesn’t Work.” Tergeson interviewed psychologist Adrianne Ahern, who had this to say about multi-tasking:
“When we’re multi-tasking, we’re not really paying attention to what we’re doing. Worse, we’re diminishing our ability to attend to any one task. When we’re multi-tasking, we’re only getting 25% of what we had intended to accomplish done. And we’re hard-wiring these behaviors. There’s so much information we feel we have to take in that we get overloaded. We shift to using the primitive part of our brains where we are reacting and not making clear decisions. We are operating from a place of confusion and fear and frustration. We’re in emergency mode—the fight or flight response kicks in. We’ve become habituated to the fast pace of life. In response, we’ve become a culture of multi-taskers. Working parents are at the greatest risk.”
I can’t help but agree with her, but do most of us have a choice? At my house, we have to multi-task to survive. In a 10-minute span this morning, here’s what I tried to do all at the same time: laundry, dress my kids, drink coffee, pop a bagel in the toaster and check e-mail. I’m not sure I did any of it well. My daughter’s socks don’t match, for one thing, but that’s the least of my concerns.
Parents: Do you multi-task? How do you make it work? How do you know when you're trying to do too much?