I've often heard someone say proudly, "I'm multi-tasking!" But, is that a good thing?
MIT neuroscientist, Earl Miller, writes, "Our brains are not wired to multi-task. When people think they're multi-tasking, they're really just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there is a cognitive cost."
We teach our own brain to jump from one thing to another and then wonder why our children lack focus. At the end of the day, it feels as if we've worked very hard on many things, but we can't point to anything completed. If we, instead, taught our brain to select the one most important thing to do at the time, and worked on that, we would be miles ahead, in my opinion.
In another study at the University of London, subjects were given several tasks to perform. They were asked to do them in sequence and then later to do them simultaneously. When the subjects were required to perform the tasks simultaneously, the quality of work dropped to a level similar to that done by a person who was sleep deprived or on drugs. That may explain some of the work you see at your officeJ.
In addition, studies of humans show that multi-tasking causes an increase in the production of cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. That may explain a lot of what's going on in our society today.
I was so pleased when I saw these studies, because I have been a dedicated mono-tasker for years. Of course that makes me a very non-objective reporter as well. Please just give it a try with these steps.
· Make a list of things that you need to get done.
· Sit down and look over the list.
· Pray for the one thing that you should do first, usually the most important.
· Ask God to bless your efforts and give you focus.
· Work on that one thing until it is either completed or you run into an unavoidable delay. That will happen. Remember, not all things can be completed quickly.
If you are like me, by the end of the day you will not only have checked more things off your list, but more importantly, the quality of the work will be higher. As I said before, I'm not very objective on this. I just offer it up for you to consider.
By the way, this method works just as well for your children as it does for you. Once you learn the strategy, teach it to your children. They are growing up in a society that glorifies multi-tasking and doesn't quite understand yet why everyone is so stressed out.
This reminds me of an old hymn.
With the Lord begin thy task, Jesus will direct it
For His aid and counsel ask, Jesus will perfect it
Every morn with Jesus rise, and when day is ended
In His name then close thine eyes, be to Him commended
Blessings on your parenting,
As parents we want to be relevant in our children's lives not only in the present but for many years to come. If you are the parent of a young child, you are their center of the universe. As your child grows and matures, other influences will enter his or her life. If you are the parent of a middle school child, you are all too aware of this reality. Regardless of how old your children are, there are several things you can do to maintain or improve this relevance.
Study their culture. Especially as our kids grow they begin to have a culture outside ours. What are they reading? What are they watching? To what are they listening? The better you understand their culture, the better you understand them.
Try to understand the difference between a cultural phenomenon and timeless value. Some societal trends will come and go quickly, while others leave behind some part of themselves for a long time. At any moment it's hard to know whether some phenomenon is a fad or a permanent change. Be sure to keep your timeless values in mind and teach them to your children.
Look for redemptive analogies. Even in the foreign culture occupied by our children, we can find examples of people doing things that we find acceptable or even laudable. Look for those words and deeds to discuss with your children. When they see their cultural icons acting in harmony with your timeless values, it's a powerful message.
When something works well, start looking for the next strategy. Unfortunately solutions that work with our children don't last forever. As parents we have to constantly and creatively look for new alternative ways to communicate and lead.
Measure success by connection and not by control. We can only temporarily control our children and that only when they're very young. The connection we make at a young age will remain intact. When your children are older and less under your control, you can move to the consultant phase of parenting. That stage works even through adulthood.
Just a reminder -- many of the ideas I present are based upon the writings of Dr. Tim Elmore. Check out his website at http://growingleaders.com/ .
Blessings on your parenting,
Tim Miesner, Principal