Monday, July 13, 2009

Women are amazing multi-taskers

Women can really take advantage of the fact that they are among the millions who have been multi-tasking for centuries and didn't know it until the term recently became popular.

Look at the women in the 18th century, they ran a household, took care of husbands and children, were expected to know how to sew, and play an instrument. Some of them were even trying to become writers, artists and musicians. For example: Jane Austin, Mary Cassatt, and Clara Schumann.

In America. the pioneer woman is a good example of a major multi-tasker. She bore child after child, took care of them and the other members of her family, cooked, gardened, laundered, and cleaned the house. She took care of the chickens, milked the cows, and even chopped wood.

During the second world war, in the '40s, women continued to care for their families, as they joined the work force and worked in the factories, while helping out in the canteens and hospitals.

This ability, still prevalent today, is a skill women can use to help them get through the tough times of our present economy. They can take on a second job, start a new one at home, or help out in the family business that can't afford to hire the help they need right now.

One caveat, according to recent research, the National Academy of Sciences published the following warning: "Multi-tasking adversely affects how you learn," said Russell Poldrack, UCLA associate professor of psychology and co-author of the study."Even if you learn while multi-tasking, that learning is less flexible and more specialized, so you cannot retrieve the information as easily.

Our study shows that to the degree you can learn while multi-tasking, you will use different brain systems. "The best thing you can do to improve your memory is to pay attention to the things you want to remember," Poldrack added. "Our data support that. When distractions force you to pay less attention to what you are doing, you don't learn as well as if you had paid full.

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