When The Atlantic put out the video “Single-Tasking Is The New Multi-Tasking” they referred to the #TablessThursday movement where, on Thursdays, only work in the Internet with 1 tab open. While watching this video on a Saturday morning at 8 am, I quickly grabbed a screen shot of the tabs I had open- this is my pre-blog pic:
Three tabs- that’s actually pretty good for me… However, an hour before starting this, I had already scrolled through Facebook, The Leader-Post App, Huffington Post and Instagram on my phone. Do those apps count as tabs?
The one sentence that really stuck out there for me in this is “Tabs are a metaphor for life”. Now, my post is going to get a bit more personal, but I promise to come back… If my brain was the Internet, there would be a thousand tabs open all time. I’m constantly multi-tasking in my head about all the events, work, kids, husband, dog- the things in life that consume my life. At the beginning of this week, I was stricken with 3 nights of insomnia where I couldn’t get my brain to turn off about all the things I needed to do. My husband suggested, on the third night, “Make a list of everything going on in your head”. After giving him a scowl, I tried it. Now, maybe it was because I hadn’t slept in three nights, or maybe, just maybe, it was because I made a list, I finally slept. (Please don’t tell my husband he may have been right… 😉
But that one sentence from the video stuck with me. Our brains are wired like the Internet. It is our central hub of all the information we have acquired over our lives and we pull out and search that information as it becomes necessary (and, I must say, much quicker than our actual Internet providers in this province…). But all those “tabs” that we use in our brains to keep ourselves going, to plan in advance, to make sure we are where we need to be, are always open. Managing those tabs is how we make it through each day.
Now, at the beginning of this week, I wasn’t managing them well enough and my body and mind suffered. I wasn’t sleeping because I was too busy thinking. So, if the brain is like the Internet, then is the Internet like the brain when we are trying to be productive? Here’s an example:
It’s 3:00pm. School is almost over for the day and you are on prep. Your email icon pops up, and it’s an email from your principal saying “Long Range Plans due”. You know you are close to getting them done, but you are stuck on a couple of outcomes that you likely won’t be covering until June… Well, let’s not respond right away to that email. Let’s start searching for that outcome online and see what’s out there. As you scroll over to your Internet icon, you see that you were searching up questions for a novel you want to study with the class. Well, that is important so let’s leave that up, next you remember that you needed to print off that news article for tomorrow’s social lesson. So you find it in a new tab. You still have your online textbooks open, but you still need that to plan tomorrow’s Math lessons. Speaking of math, Sadie asked for extra help with algebraic equations. What is that site again??? The search goes on and on. Three more emails pop up and by 3:20 you now have 10 tabs open in your browser and 6 unread emails. There’s the bell! Home time. Close the lid on your laptop and all those tabs just got put to sleep.
I will be honest – I just spent that last 5 minutes scrolling through Facebook looking for a post I read this morning about how teachers make more last minute decisions than surgeons. Couldn’t find it. But I did chat with another teacher about something different. Am I feeling productive? Is the Internet more of a distraction right now? Absolutely! It’s Saturday at 8:46 am. I consider myself a multitasker who takes appropriate brain breaks when necessary. We do the same thing in our classrooms. We see our students getting squirmy after long periods of inactivity so we get them up, focused on something more energizing for a couple of minutes and once they are ready, they can get back to work.
As adults, we have the self-regulation tools needed to help us re-focus when we find we are getting too overwhelmed with what we are doing. For me (and again, please don’t tell my hubby he was right…), I needed to make that list to quiet my brain. When at work, we need to check on something other than work to step aside and quiet our thoughts. When I re-open the lid to my laptop and see all those tabs open, at least there is a visual reminder of all the things I still need to work on (much like my list…). The difference between the Internet and the brain is that one can be turned off when needed. The other will eventually quiet in time.
Here is my post-blog pic: