Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Mind or the Multitasking - ADHD version of "The Chicken or the Egg"

I read an article last week (see link) that talked about the negative effects of multitasking on the human brain.

Unfortunately for me though, my current job requires multitasking, to a large extent.  I have somewhere between six and ten tasks to accomplish at any given time, and the urgency of a particular task varies based on external events and who is making the request.  Often times I find that just when I start to focus on a specific task I get interrupted by a new request or question about the product I'm responsible for, or something related to it.  If not that, then it's a co-worker discussion around me, a phone call from my wife, or a random email.  Most of the time this doesn't bother me much - I'm pretty used to it and it keeps me from getting bored.

Lately though, I feel like I've been having a harder time staying focused on just one work task.  At home too, I have so many projects and things to get done that I find myself often challenged to decide which one to work on and then once I'm engaged it's not uncommon for me to get distracted by someone or by another priority that I want/need to make progress on.  I even had a hard time the other day sitting down to read the Bible and write in my journal, as I was thinking about various reasons to get up and get other things done.  I don't recall having this problem nearly as much before though, and after reading the article I couldn't help but wonder if maybe my brain has been adapting to the continuous multitasking that work and/or life has required of me.

Younger generations probably have it even worse, since they are inundated with multimedia and multitasking for the majority of their life. I know there are other factors to consider, but how much impact does this have on the increased diagnosis of mental disorders such as ADHD.  I'm not the only one to notice this coincidence either.

So how should we address this modern problem then?  If our minds are being forced to adapt to constantly switching between tasks and doing multiple things at once, then would it help to force ourselves to at least periodically and purposefully pursue behavior to combat this?  Here are some ideas of activities for this:
  • Meditation
  • Prolonged prayer (including not just talking, but also listening)
  • Writing
  • Turning off multimedia
Maybe I'm mistaken though, and it's all just genetic.  And perhaps the only thing that will help an excessively restless mind is to keep it engaged, active, and/or medicated.  I can't help but want to err on the side of discipline, determination, and deliberate behavioral modification though.

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