Though multitasking can be a useful skill it also has its down side. Being bombarded by stimuli can put often unneeded stress on our bological systems. Stress often produces an adrenal response (fight ofall_aspensr flight) that can harm over bodies over time. When we can not or do not turn off outside stimuli our minds and bodies do not relax. We do not get a sense of who we are, how we function, what we want as individuals away from our technologically geared world. It is important to find time with out interruption - without outside affect on our minds and bodies. It is important to spend time in a more natural world so we hear and listen from the inside out. So we can renew our bodies, hearts and minds.

  • There is a danger in people becoming so busy staying on top of everything that they become great Skimmers and do not research or learn deeply about subjects or the world around them.
  • There is a danger that people could lose or fail to use the face to face body language and communication skills learn over eons of evolution.

Solutions: Turn off the media! You are in controll and you set the pace. Take time daily for yourself. Turn off your computer Pop Up Window. Do not let your email run your life - check it at defined times of day. Understand that Multitasking is really project management and the more organized and focused you are the more effective you will be. Do not expect your brain to track more than one or two things at a time. Write it all down and let it go!


One danger in habitually multitasking is becoming a skimmer or as multimedia pioneer Linda Stone coined the phrase "continuous partial attention". Continuous partial attention is multitasking where things do not get studied in depth. Author Steven Berlin Johnson describes this kind of multitasking: “It usually involves skimming the surface of the incoming data, picking out the relevant details, and moving on to the next stream. You’re paying attention, but only partially. That lets you cast a wider net, but it also runs the risk of keeping you from really studying the fish.   In the ever converging computer and human world of technology we are all multitasking at rates that are significantly higher than previous generations. Some of us are able to talk on a cellphone, text, respond to Social networking all while driving a car. Rapidly increasing technology fosters multitasking because it promotes multiple sources of input at a given time. As technology provides more distractions, attention is spread among tasks more thinly. A prevalent example of this inattention to detail due to multitasking is apparent when people talk on cell phones while driving. Talking and driving are not mutually exclusive because focusing on both the conversation and the road uses the same part of the brain. As a result, people generally become more concerned with their phone conversations and do not concentrate on their immediate surroundings. Because the brain cannot focus on two sources of input at one time, driving and listening or talking, constantly changing input provided by cell phones distracts the brain and increases the likelihood of accidents.

Social Consequences: Because society endorses constant multitasking, such as listening to an iPod while exercising, physical social interaction is negatively affected. Already, youth commonly text and listen to iPods while having a “conversation”. Though they may be talented at switching their attention rapidly between their favorite song, phone, and a friend’s response, they are physically incapable of focusing on both in the same moment; thus, the friend is neglected. Because an important part of a message is communicated through body language and tone of voice, a person who texts while conversing will miss a great part of what the other says. The texting person will also convey the message that they are disinterested in the conversation. A person can feel excluded when talking to someone who whips out a cell phone to text in the midst of conversation. This portrays that the texting person does not care for what the other thinks because they do not maintain eye contact or pay complete attention to the conversation. Through electronic communication, body language and expression are lost altogether. “Thousands of years of evolution created human physical communication… that puts broadband to shame in its ability to convey meaning and create bonds”

Adapted from many sources including and article in Health by Linda Evans

April 16th, 2010

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