At the beginning of my senior year of college, I needed one more credit in my content area--world literature. I had avoided it during my other, more heavily-loaded semesters because Dr. Atkinson was tough, and I wanted to keep my GPA high so I could get into grad school. A couple of weeks in, after what he deemed a round of disappointing essays, the grave Dr. Atkinson stood in front of us, rubbing his temples: "If you are writing these essays while doing other things, stop. Research demonstrates that attempting to do two or more dissimilar tasks at the same time decreases efficiency for both tasks. So, stop it." WHAT?! Seriously? I had been attempting to multitask most of my life. Society told me, "Do more. More is better." I had watched my mother who, owned her own business, parent and talk on the phone with clients and cook and drive the dog to the vet, and put on her makeup, and sip her coffee . I wasn't supposed to do that? Really?
And, yet, as a teacher now, myself, I see students who believe that they must keep up with their friends electronically, play basketball, run track, participate in three choirs, be a part of two clubs, have a starring role in the drama, and make straight As, all while remaining sane, dedicated, and respectful. Their multitasking overloads their underdeveloped frontal lobes, and they lament about having to do homework, to which I respond: "Of course you cannot finish your homework! You are trying to live four lives simultaneously!" Their multitasking decreases their effectiveness and results in frazzled, thinly-spread, fractured teenagers.
Still, the second I tell my students that very thing, I become a hypocrite. I teach around two hundred students each year, lead the International Club, the nascent Debate Club, the Global Tours program, the Senior Thesis class, the Junior Girls Bible Study, my own business, and I attempt to maintain my marriage and a somewhat normal social life, and I am definitely NOT doing all of those things well. Whew. Just typing that made me tired.
I am a "yes" girl, and, a couple of months ago, shared this struggle with one of my students who has the same problem. She told me that her mother was reading The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. I bought the book and began reading, but, that, again, was another commitment, and I had to drop it for prior commitments, such as sleeping.
I think what I am trying to say is that, while I plan to finish TerKeurst's book once the school year is over, reading such a book will only help the individual who is truly willing to let go. For, if God truly did not make our minds to multitask, we have to trust that the hours He has given us are, indeed, enough. We have to trust that the things that fit into our schedule are, truly, the best things. Otherwise, we will, like my students and myself, continue to chase our tails and become exhausted in the pursuit.
Ultimately, multitasking is bad because we were made to use our time wisely, to trust that it is enough, and to let the rest go. God's word says it best:
"He has showed you, O man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." -Micah 6:8