Multi-Tasking : Not good during the Holidays…or anytime!

by | Dec 9, 2015 | Health & News


We live in a frenetic world – constantly trying to fit more and more into a tighter and tighter schedule. Now that the holidays are upon us, we feel even more pressure to get things done.

Does this sound familiar?

You’re trying to get dinner ready, scheduling a play date for your son/daughter, checking your e-mail while helping them with homework?

holiday _stress

Well, this is a very common complaint that I hear many times from my patients. There just isn’t enough time!


But, should we be juggling all of these things? Is multi-tasking really beneficial?

Does multi-tasking really save time?

mom multitasking


Multi-tasking means attempting to do two or more unrelated tasks at the same time.  As women, we are the ultimate multi-taskers – and we are more adroit at multi-tasking than men.   This is due to the fact that women’s brains have a wider bridge, or corpus callosum, connecting their left and right hemispheres allowing for faster communication between the two sides of the brain.

From an evolutionary perspective, this may have been highly advantageous.  In prehistoric times, it was important for women to be able to handle multiple tasks, such as foraging for berries while keeping a close eye on the children.  But today, given the technological advances available, maybe we have carried this multi-tasking thing a bit too far!

Recent studies have shown that multi-tasking causes and overload in the brain’s processing ability.   Using advances in medical – scanning technology, it has been shown the when people try to perform more than one complex task at a time,  the brain requires more energy to perform  the work,  leads to more mistakes, and requires more time.

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, the more complex the task, the more time lost.  When we multi-task, certain parts of our brains, specifically our prefrontal and parietal cortices, are required to perform “executive control” processes.  Results of subjects attempting to switch between solving math problems and classifying geometric objects, found that subjects lost time when they had to switch from one task to another, and the amount of time spent increased with the complexity of the tasks.  So, the next time you think about talking on the phone while checking your e-mail, realize that you would be better off doing one thing at a time.


Does multi-tasking increase your stress level?


Yes! Recent studies have shown that multi-tasking also has a negative physical effect, prompting the release of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.  This can lead to a vicious cycle, where we work harder to do multiple things at one time, take longer to accomplish them , then feel stressed, harried and compelled to multi-task even more!

Lastly, how does multi-tasking affect activity in the bedroom?  As you would guess, it doesn’t do much to increase desire.     At times, we may need to manage multiple tasks, but don’t take it to the bedroom!  Women need to be present and focus on the moment.   Literally, in order to be “turned on”, a woman needs to “turn off” her brain.  This may take a little practice – learning to tune out your mind and tune into the moment, but it will be well worth it!


This holiday season, give yourself the gift of focusing on one task at a time!

You and your family will be happy you did!


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In health and happiness,

Dr Diana Hoppe OBGYN in encinitas, CA. signature- hormones, menopause, weight loss, pap smear, total women's health care