Multi-tasking Ourselves out of Relationships?

25 01 2012

On a normal day (read: slow day), with no major errands to run, you’ll still likely find me doing at least three or four things at a time while at home. I may be watching TV, but I’ll also likely be doing some kind of work on the computer. I might be on the phone as well and/or cooking, picking out what I’m going to wear to work the next day, checking off my schedule from the week, figuring out what tasks need to be completed for the board I sit on… and lately, I’m also checking to see how I’m progressing in my Twelve in 12 goals. “How’s my writing coming along? What about that other hobby goal? Oh, don’t forget you’re supposed to be learning French now.” Multi-tasking game proper. And that’s not even considering the fact that a co-worker brought up the idea of teaching for University of Phoenix and my first thought was, “hmmm can I fit that in, because that would be a great side hustle!”

Oh the side hustle. Most of us have them. Some of them are paid – like the consulting journalism workshop I do every summer or like CCB’s piano lessons she does every week. Some of them are not. I feel like the Board is a side hustle sometimes, and so is my position in Toastmaster’s, and the mentoring I do with college students who were former teens of mine in a local teen program. Whatever your side hustle is (are), I can guarantee it involves you multi-tasking at some point, and apparently the multi-tasking we all do is kinda bad for our brain.

At least that’s what articles like THIS would have you believe. According to the Daily Mail, multi-tasking “denies us essential pauses in our mental space.”

We need this time to develop our inner resources and grow neural connections in the cortex humanitatis – the part of brain that makes us civilized creatures, says Daniel Siegel, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA Medical School in America. ‘When you do several things at once, you tend to do them on autopilot and fail to engage the parts of the brain that form strong neural connections.’

So if multi-tasking does this to our brains, what the heck is it doing to our love lives and relationships? How often have you heard people say (or maybe you’ve even said) that they’re working on their careers right now, with the natural implication being that any relationship opportunity is on the back burner? This isn’t because of the one 9 to 5 job (or more likely 7:30/8:30 – 6:30 job) we all have. It’s because of our side hustles. It’s because of the ambitious tasks we set for ourselves. And I say we, because I’m no different. We all have so many things we want and are seeking to achieve in our lives, but what happens when all that multi-tasking causes us to miss out having someone to share our accomplishments with? What happens if the multi-tasking is doing more damage than we realize?

And what do we do to change that if it is? Daily Mail provides lovely suggestions for not allowing multi-tasking to ruin our brain cells, such as taking time to meditate daily. But what’s the meditation equivalent to not let it ruin our love lives?

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