Nearly 40 years too late to do me any good, they’ve come up with a new, innovative way to study in school.
During final exams just past they put in the library at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, just on the other side of Charlotte, two FitDesks.
They’re a desktop affixed atop a stationary bike. The library invited students to plop down a book, hop on and pedal away.
I can see it now. You’re trying to absorb the ontology of Aristotle and, aargh, you think you’ve just pulled a calf muscle. Forget Aristotle.
The contraption’s website touts this odd combo as “the ultimate way” to exercise while working, watching TV or doing homework. The site has a photo of a guy in shirt and tie talking on the phone, typing on a laptop and pedaling on the bike.
That’s doing three things at one time and undoubtedly doing none of them well. And the model’s getting his crisp dress shirt sweat-stained to boot.
But that’s the craze these days — multitasking, an evil invention that will doom us all if not stopped.
So I’m driving on the interstate a month ago. The sun had slipped just below the horizon and I’m enjoying a warm spring dusk. I look over and there staring at me eyeball-to-eyeball is a big, ol’ car headlight.
I look to see a woman with her left hand on the steering wheel and with her right hand holding a not-so-smart phone up to her right ear. She’d drifted into my lane and got to within just a few feet from my driver’s car door.
She looked over at me and jerked her car back into her lane in the nick of time.
Had that woman been texting instead, she’d probably have hit my car while going 70 mph.
Young people have grown to love to multitask. They can’t get enough of it.
“Studying is not fun. This is a lot more fun,” graduate student Kara Lowman, 24, told The Herald newspaper in Rock Hill after a study/workout session in the Winthrop library.
There’s no word on how she did on her finals.
Multitasking increases the chances of making mistakes and missing important information and cues, according to Dr. Paul Hammerness and Margaret Moore, authors of “Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life,” published by Harvard Health Publications.
Multitaskers also are less likely to retain information in working memory, which can hinder problem-solving and creativity, they said.
Harvard Medical School reported the case of a patient who needed life-saving, open-heart surgery after a resident began to enter an order on a phone to stop administering the blood-thinner drug warfarin.
However, the young doctor got interrupted by a text from a friend inviting her to a party. The doctor quickly texted back that she’d love to go but did not get back to the patient’s drug cancellation. Two additional days of warfarin in his system nearly squeezed the patient’s heart to death.
Hammerness and Moore admonished us to give our full attention to the task at hand and avoid such multitasking distractions. They call such focus set shifting, a fancy way to say focus on one thing at a time and complete it before shifting to the next task.
Here in the hometown they call that keeping your mind on what you’re doing.
With set shifting, we’ll do things better and with more creativity and fewer mistakes or missed connections, the researchers said.
More than once I’ve heard on the job that “you’ve got to multitask.” That’s a PC method of putting more work on you with no more pay or time.
They need to take that idea and shove it.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.
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