Multitasking Research

                                  “Memory Matters” for ALL Ages  LINK TO PROGRAM

It seems like every week there is a study on the impact of multitasking on a person’s ability to be effective and safe. One of the things that appeals to me about this information is that it helps me to reflect on certain patterns when juggling my multifaceted career, a personal life and moving out of my home of 36 years. There are days when I feel like I need to be 2 people and that I am driven by a “to do” list. Task switching is a common practice and, while it can make things interesting, it has it limitations and I want to make better choices for my time and energy.

Talking to people of all ages, it seems like young and old feel there is not enough free time. Maybe it is time to pay attention to what the research is saying so that you can be more informed when you make choices about the tempo and quality of your life.

Some things to think about:

1.  When I began doing programs in the late 1990’s to increase awareness of what is needed to maximize your memory, there were articles talking about the need for teachers to change the way they were doing in the classroom every 20 minutes to keep students interested and engaged.  They talked about the influence television had in this scenario.
Hard to believe that in the early 1950’s there were only 2 or 3 channels then 5 or 6 in the early 1970’s.  There was little channel changing and 3 networks accounted for most of the viewing until a series of technological innovations including remote controls came on the scene.  You get the picture. The ability to easily change channels may have altered not only your expectations and perhaps eventually your behavior outside the realm of watching TV. Notice how often you switch gears and why?

2.  A recent study focused on the segment of the population with the highest cell phone usage. It showed that daily usage could average as high as 14 hours a day and those users were less fit than those with less usage.

2. Another recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology revealed that even though checking your phone may take only a few seconds, it is enough to ruin your train of thought. That can double the number of mistakes people make.

3. It is no longer unusual to see a person on their cell phone not stopping to look both ways before crossing the street. Another research study co-authored by Jack Nasar talked about the incidence of accidents related to distracted walking, whether talking on the phone or texting.  “If current trends continue, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cell phones doubles again between 2010 and 2015.”

Pay attention to the research that is out there because multitasking (taskswitching) is not going away. If you are more aware of what is happening, you may find that your comments about your memory not being what it used to be will make more sense. One gentleman slowing down for a stop sign while answering a call and sliding into the car in front of him  learned an important lesson about when not to multitask. No one was hurt but there was damage to both cars and he received a ticket. Now the phone is not used in a moving car and he is reinforcing this with his children who are not yet driving.

Tip to consider:
!. First of all speak up.  You teach people how it is okay to treat you. Maybe with the upcoming holidays, there is a no phone rule for several hours to allow for time together without interruptions from technology. In Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers talks about the impact of technology and offers some strategies he has implemented as a family. One of my friends told his grandchildren to put their phones away while visiting. He wanted quality time with them and felt cheated out of it when the teenagers arrived and stayed preoccupied during most of the visit.

2. Create a specific time to check emails and text messages or voicemails. Unless it is essential to what you are currently doing, make no exceptions.

Notice how long you stay with a task. How has technology enhanced your life? Are there some areas where you may need to make some adjustments? Just make one change at a time, stay with it and it will become a new habit.

According to Lee Iacocca “The ability to concentrate and use your time well is everything.”

Link to “Memory Matters” for ALL Ages  cable television show: Multitasking Research.

Memory Fitness products by Kathryn Kilpatrick including “Walking the Path to Memory Fitness One Week at a Time.”

About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters ( and Communication Connection( She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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