Saturday, 30 July 2011

countdown 22: multi-tasking and forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is one of my flaws. Just tonight, I misplaced my husband's umbrella. I will have to replace that bit-expensive piece of an umbrella. Yesterday, I also had a memory lapse and forgot to retrieve my ID from the building concierge. I will have to go back for it tomorrow. Very inconvenient. My most painful memory yet of forgetfulness is misplacing my iPhone in Singapore last year.

I blame the anesthesia from giving birth and my recent odontectomy, but even before I had those surgeries, I was already forgetful. Or could it be just inattentiveness on my part?

I have tried to address my forgetfulness by jotting to do's and important events in my calendar and it worked. But I still fail in simple things such as remembering where I put the umbrella or the keys. There is this one pointer I read which I think would be helpful - try to be more attentive and say what you're about to do out loud, "I'm putting down the keys here". This allows our brain to pay attention and encode the data in our memory. Hopefully next time, I won't forget the umbrella or maybe I'll just buy a cheap one.

They say that multi-tasking, distractions, stress and lack of sleep may contribute to memory lapses. I'm easily distracted. Sometimes, I would go up to our room for something I'll surely forget by the time I get there. I then have to go back down in order for me to remember what I set out to do in the first place. It can get frustrating sometimes but I do benefit from the exercise.

Another one of my flaws related to forgetfulness is impatience. I can barely concentrate on one task at a time. If the oracle (system) takes too much time to run, I try to do other things such as read an email or open my tax worksheet until I completely forget what I was supposed to do.

We leave in such a distraction-full world that it feels almost sinful to have a lull moment. We feel that we have to keep moving or keep our hands full. I see people crossing the street, listening on their Ipod and texting on their phones. Multi-tasking at its best.

I've read from a magazine article that multi-tasking doesn't actually involve doing multiple things simultaneously. Rather, it involves rapidly switching between tasks. This process requires us to constantly refocus our attention and saps brain energy. This explains why at times I'd get stress-induced headaches from trying to accomplish a number of tasks all at the same time.

What I've learned from my long commutes is that it is beneficial to allow myself to space out, to keep my mind blank and stare into oblivion, even if briefly. The reprieve rejuvenates my brain and allows my creative juices to flow. In fact, I have conjured a lot of blogging ideas and have had aha moments en route to and from work. I'll surely miss the interesting daily commute.

The challenge in this multi-tasking crazed times is how to ignore distractions and place our full focus on a certain task, one at a time. Of course, there are things that can really be done simultaneously like listening to the radio while driving. But for safety, health and sanity reasons, better not bring the iPad while using the loo.

I hope I'll be able to keep reminding myself to be attentive and to stay focused. No more lost umbrellas from this day onwards.

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