Multitasking = Overstimulated Brain

I know many studies advise that multitasking does not accomplish as much as we tend to think it does.  By focusing on several things at once we’re unable to give any one thing our full attention.  I am a big proponent of mindfulness and appreciating the little things in life.

That being said, this past week I was incredibly guilty of multitasking.  I blame this mostly on trying to take on too much in one week.  Working and coaching were a given, commitments I couldn’t break.  Working out was another “must do” although there was some flexibility in the type and duration.  Monday evening consisted of a special borough meeting (which led to more multitasking as you’ll soon read), Tuesday evening was Meet the Team night for track, and Wednesday evening was a Citizens Climate Lobby meeting.  I also signed up for a free online crash course in “pioneer cooking” knowing I wouldn’t get to watch all the videos, but that I would try to watch as many as I could.

I thought by pre-planning dinners to mostly consist of crock pot recipes and putting cleaning on the “to do another week” list that I would be fine.  Monday was a busy work day as it always tends to be, and I wasn’t able to watch any of the pioneer cooking videos because of it.  The borough meeting that evening resulted in me having to call the borough the next day to send someone out to inspect if we needed upgraded water equipment in anticipation of a big project this spring in which the water company will install a new main water line.  The borough claimed that letters were sent out in the fall advising of the project and what would be needed, but the 30+ people in attendance (Jason and I included) spoke up to say that we had never received letters.  No apology was given and we were told to have the work done “as soon as possible” with no firm deadline.

Wed. morning two men from the borough came out and confirmed that while I had a new water meter, I would need a new water line as it was galvanized steel and they wanted copper, along with a new shut off valve and two other things.  I quickly called the plumber only to discover he didn’t do service line replacement, but fortunately his dad did.  I then called him and left a voicemail.  He came out on Thursday to scope out the layout and proposed a plan that would hopefully save us money; rather than use copper line from the street to the house (a distance of 80-85 ft as our house sits back quite a bit) he was going to see if the borough would permit us to put in a meter kit and hook up from there and use well water piping instead.  He called on Friday to say the borough would allow this, but that he would need his excavator to come out to determine costs on digging the yard to lay the new line.  We’re fairly certain the current one runs directly under the house to which is there is no basement but only a concrete slab.  Due to this there is a strong likelihood the line will have to come up under the stove and into the cabinet under the kitchen sink thus causing the floor under the stove to be ripped up.

All of this craziness was being done during my work hours of which I often don’t need a full 40, but can put me into a slight panic mode when I’m trying to get everything wrapped up before track practice.  Throw into it the “Sure I can get a workout and shower in before track” mindset and I was piling on the stress.  I was also keeping my personal laptop stationed near my work desk to check for track related emails.

The strange thing was that through the whole week I never felt stressed.  I was sick to my stomach wondering about the costs of the new water line and annoyed by the way the borough handled things, but not truly stressed.  I bounced between work tasks and replying to track emails and even threw in a pioneer cooking video here and there.  My mind would get distracted during my workouts, but I quickly refocused all my energy on being mindful during them.  I thought everything was under control and that multitasking was of benefit to me.  I was sleeping well, eating well and had the energy to just keep pushing through the to do’s.

This morning I had to force myself to do my 20 minute upper body workout, but felt accomplished once it was finished.  I went to church looking forward to some time for quiet reflection and listening to the new interim pastors speak.  Instead of experiencing the calm I felt tired and highly irritable.  A woman sat in front of me whose child (possibly around 2 years old) seemed to continuously make noise through talking, smacking the chair and dropping toys.  An older lady two seats from mine was trying to help shush the child by putting a finger to her lips.  The irony in her doing that is that she had a tablet out nearly the whole service, shopping online for shoes.  I saw another older lady have her phone out scrolling a website near the end of the service.  The constant noise of the child, the visual distraction of the technology and just overall mental fatigue had me wanting to cry at some points and walk out at others.

I came home and vented to Jason about the noisy child and technology loving woman and expected to feel de-stressed.  I then proceeded to apply for clearances for he and I to begin volunteering with an organization partnering with the church.  It felt mentally draining and the sound of the TV was grating on me the entire time.  Once I finished I said I needed to go lay down for awhile to shut everything out.

An hour of partial resting, partial napping, and I’m feeling slightly better, at least enough to keep to my commitment to blog once a week.  I had never experienced the kind of moodiness that I encountered this morning, and all I can figure is that my brain was too mentally stimulated.  Jason agreed that it made sense.  I had a fairly relaxing day yesterday of running 5 miles with Jason and dad and later going out for pizza with Jason, mom and dad, but it appears that the craziness of the week finally caught up to me.

I am going to be very careful to limit the multitasking this week and rather than stress about getting a lot of work done before a vacation day on Friday, I will accept that I have teammates who can cover for me and just do what I can do.  I will not treat needing to lay down and close my eyes for a bit as a sign of laziness, but as a mini break to recharge my batteries.  I will acknowledge that I may not have the time or energy to workout as much as I feel I should, and that’s ok because my fitness level won’t deplete in a week.  I will remember that my mind needs to be taken care of as well as I take care of my body.

Are you guilty of multitasking or do you try to limit it?  Have you ever had house projects forced upon you due to your township/borough?  How do you deal with distractions during church/other important functions?


About Tracy

Runner. Writer. Reader. Environmental and Indigenous Peoples advocate. Work from home Workforce Specialist. NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Assistant Varsity Track Coach. Fascinated by the ocean, waterfalls and Christmas lights.
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6 Responses to Multitasking = Overstimulated Brain

  1. Learnography says:

    It’s true ! One task at a time is proper for the good health of our brain. We have to understand the working mechanism and limitations of our brain that is not compatible to the moduation of silicon chips. Thanks

  2. If I’m somewhere that I need to concentrate on something but someone else is distracting me, I’ll physically turn my body away from them so I can’t see them, or I’ll even put a hand in front of that field of vision so it blocks them out. I’ve never had to deal with forced house projects because of my town. I’m sure that’s frustrating and I hope you’re able to sort it all out.

    • TracyNicole says:

      I was really on the verge of moving seats at church but I didn’t want to indirectly “mom shame” that mom. Unfortunately her child was in the seat right in front of me and she to the left of him, so there wasn’t anyway of blocking them from my view, but I agree that is a good idea to try to do so. This is a first I’ve encountered a forced project (normally we’re replacing something because it’s wearing out and/or broken) and it’s hard to not be a little bitter about it. I’m really hoping for a reasonable quote so that our emergency savings won’t be drained because of it!

  3. I used to be a distracted-multitasker and thrived on being able to do multiple tasks at ‘ once’ but not anymore. Multiple studies have confirmed that multitasking is a myth and anyone who believes that multitasking increases their productivity and efficiency are mistaken. I wrote an article about this on my website – “What Is Your Superpower? Multitasking or Mindfulness?” – Check it out!

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