How much thought process is required for you to talk on a cell phone and do another activity at the same time? Let’s find out!
In your group, assign three volunteers to do a fairly physical yet fun activity.
Have the rest of the group choose a topic for the volunteers to discuss (perhaps make a topic like “cell phone use while driving”).
Volunteers are to carry on a discussion about the chosen topic, BUT each volunteer has to pick a position (standing, sitting or leaning*) during the conversation.
The volunteers should change positions randomly and frequently while they are talking. If one person changes from standing to sitting, then the person who is sitting must quickly pick a different position, and so on.
Encourage the observers to yell out to the volunteers if they see more than one person in the same position at the same time.
Continue play for a few minutes before stopping to discuss.
*NOTE: If the teaching environment does not have a chair to sit or lean on, you may alternate with kneeling or bending instead.
Volunteers, how did you feel when doing the activity?
Was it stressful?
Did you make mistakes? Did it get confusing?
Doing another task that requires focus impacts your ability to carry on a conversation at the same time.
You can’t do two thinking activities at once and do them well. Please remember this and avoid your phones while driving!
Watch this video, and then try the exercise yourself or with a group. (You will need paper and pencil for this one, plus a stopwatch or watch with a second hand.)
Time the following with your stopwatch:
Write out the following sentence, “Switchtasking is a thief”. Then write the numbers 1 through 21 on the line beneath.
Next, time the following with your stopwatch:
Now write the same sentence and numbers on two new separate lines of the paper, but this time alternating writing one letter and one number at a time (ex: “S” with a “1” on line below, “W” with a “2” below, etc.
When you’re finished, discuss:
Did it take almost twice as much time to complete this task when you were “switchtasking”?
Did the quality decrease (sloppier handwriting, mistakes)?
Did you feel more stressed in doing the task the second time around?
How does this correspond to driving? Any activity that takes your mind off of the task of driving is a form of multitasking or switchtasking. You will be more apt to make slower choices, mistakes and have increased stress.