When we disregard all boundaries in our personal, professional and public lives, there could be chaos. With lines blurring between work, family, friends, society and self, we no longer know the difference between work time, family time, social media time and me time.During the Covid-19 pandemic, with social (physical) distancing the expected norm, no real time can be spent with friends, relatives and colleagues outside the home. Fortunately for the isolated, technology is a great enabler not just for communication and work, but for entertainment, too. The scary part is we have allowed e-devices and digital platforms to overtake our needs.Call it lockdown fatigue, stress, overwork, lack of privacy for some, loneliness for others – and the burnout, breakdown or metaphorical paralysis happens, so silent, so stealthy. What happened, everyone asks; everything was fine, wasn’t it? Yes, until the e-coup happened.A medical professional posted a tweet recently, quoting from ‘The One Thing’, a book that upholds the importance of focusing on just one thing at a time. The authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, hold no brief for multitasking.‘Hey, how many things can you do at a time,’ was a talking point that would inspire members of a gathering to garner praise for the many tasks they could accomplish simultaneously. The tweet shared this quote: “The rise in technology, while powerfully connecting us, also obliterates the very boundaries necessary for our emotional well-being…” The doctor confesses, “Which is why I actively maintain personal distance from my social media accounts, even while using them to grow.”Amishi Jha, cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of Miami, uses neurobehavioural measures to study how the brain pays attention, the mental effects of stress and ways to optimize attention. She says multitasking is a “complete myth”. In an interview, Jha said that our mind cannot pay attention to more than one thing at one time.Jha who has researched the phenomenon of multitasking, said that if you think you are on your phone listening to a conversation and replying to emails at the same time; or you are driving and texting, you will get compromised. “While multitasking, we are only doing task switching. It wears us out more than anything else. The fatigue makes you less able to handle your emotional state. It degrades the capacity you need to handle your stress.”This is so evident when it comes to giving only a part of your attention (sometimes grudgingly) while interacting with parents, children, sibling, companion, partner or friend, or while you are driving or preparing meals. Writing and sending off that email even as you answer your child’s questions; texting at the dinner table, scrolling social media posts while “attending” a webinar… there are examples ad infinitum of compulsive multitaskers who pay below optimum attention to what they are doing.by:- Narayani Ganesh
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