While driving down a major street the other day, I noticed something strange about a nearby car. Something was sticking out of the driver’s window. As we both approached a red light, I realized that the object was a guitar.
It was a guitar that was being played by the driver. While driving. Evidently his desire for music went beyond the radio.
I was speechless. How do you safely drive down a 45 mph street, while playing a musical instrument? I have no idea if DWPG (Driving While Playing Guitar) is against the law. I do know that a lot of studies have found that using cell phones and text messaging while driving is very dangerous. So you would think it would be a more complex task to handle while operating a motor vehicle.
This is the latest example I’ve seen of poor multitasking. In today’s busy world, it’s very tempting to try to get more done in less time. I’m guilty of this. I iron shirts while watching TV, exercise listening to podcasts, and cook while talking on the phone.
But I’ve learned that some activity pairings just don’t go together, like playing a musical instrument while driving. The key is realizing what could go wrong if one of the activities takes up too much of your attention, making the other one suffer.
If I’m engrossed in a TV show or a DVD, I might burn a shirt while ironing. It’s a mistake but no one is hurt. But when you’re in a car, the stakes are much higher. If you cause an accident, your life could be changed forever. Any benefit of doing the two activities at once are outweighed by the potential negative consequences.
I’ve also noticed that many times, we multitask when we are alone. Perhaps the risks seem lower and we’re overly confident in our ability to do two things at once.
When I talk to groups about communication, I often try to explain good listening skills by talking about the concept of giving the gift of your attention to the other person. This sees you put 100 percent of your focus on what he or she is saying. I may want to add to that idea by having people extend it to themselves. Maybe we would be a lot more effective and safe if we gave ourselves the gift or permission to only do one thing at a time.