Meditation and Multi-tasking

When we talk about learning, we’re normally talking about transactional learning or the learning of information. However, we also learn behaviors, which include ways of understanding information that affect/effect how we interpret concepts (mental patterns of behavior) as well as ways of responding to information that affect/effect how we act in the world (physical patterns of behaviors). An increasing volume of research indicates that meditation is a kind of metacognitive technology that helps us to actually learn the behavior of consciously thinking about our mental and physical patterns of behavior in ways that enhance our effectiveness in understanding and responding to information.

Work by University of Washington Information School professors David Levy and Jacob Wobbrock suggests that meditation training can help people working with information stay on tasks longer with fewer distractions and also improves memory and reduces stress…

The meditation training seemed to help participants concentrate longer without their attention being diverted. Those who meditated beforehand spent more time on tasks and switched tasks less often, but took no longer to complete the overall job than the others…

“Many research efforts at the human-technology boundary have attempted to create technologies that augment human abilities… This meditation work is unusual in that it attempts to augment human abilities not through technology but because of technology—because of the demands technology places on us and our need to cope with those demands.

To multitask better, learn to meditate first | Futurity: Catherine O’Donnell • University of Washington