The myth of multitasking in dentistry


Chair fully reclined, a challenging upper second molar endodontic treatment, you’re focused on the treatment when your assistant comes into the room asking how to manage a swelling on the patient you treated a few days before.
You‘re annoyed by this situation, your attention is moved outside the clinical scenario, you tell her the patient has to take some antibiotics, amoxicillin maybe, or some other drugs and you tell some commercial names.
The assistant goes out in order to complete the call with that patient.
You are still slightly distracted by this call, you think to the patient with the swelling and what may be happened. The treatment was smooth without complications, you also think to the patient you’re treating and which feeling he has listened to some “complications issue“.

You slowly focus again on the treatment you’re performing….and the assistant is back saying:
A patient told me that he doesn’t tolerate amoxicillin because of an allergy, what do I have to do?
You had not the time to focus again on the work you’re performing, that you’re stopped again.
Now you feel stupid, you didn’t put your complete attention to that discussion.
The truth was that your desire was just to close the speech with the assistant as soon as possible and work again.
And now you found yourself in the worst position. You feel negligent, a bit stupid. The eyes of the assistant looking at yours waiting for a reply.

You imagine the patient waiting on the phone, sore and probably bothered.
You imagine that patient you’re treating now and you almost visualize the fall of trust listening to this discussion.
You’re literally doing many things at the same time …and the truth is that you’re doing them badly.
Cause the reality is that, despite our computers and smartphone are able, we as humans are still not able to do in an efficient way multitasking.
Yet this is what we do daily, chasing the myth of bigger productivity.
So we work and at the same time, we try to manage the office.
We drive and at the same time we do a phone call, and, maybe, also some messaging from Whatsapp, messenger …..some can also give some glances at Facebook and Instagram.
That evident number of new notifications is there, so nicely visible when you touch your iPhone.
3 new messages on WhatsApp, 2 messages on messenger, wow also some SMS and it seems your friends have just done a post on Facebook…

This is the life most of us do in 2021.
A life where we chase the myth of productivity, but with a different reward ….stress, anxiety, frustration, and the result of the end of the day that something is always missing.
Frustration arises…toward your employees…why do they have to bother you continuously?!?
Why do you have to be the only one accountable and responsible for everything?
And your feeling is something visible…and slowly is able to weaken your relationship with your staff.
We live in a strange century … a century so full of possibilities and choices to overcome the human ability to manage them.
Yet the mainstream pushes us to do more, always more.
Work more, produce more, invest more, like a mouse in a wheel.
We run looking for a reward but the reward never arrives..
This is the time to stop multitasking, to stop running.
Thousand of years ago Seneca, the ancient Greek philosopher, already questioned this topic in the famous essay “ de brevitatae vitae “.

Already 2000 years ago people were complaining about being short of time.
Seneca replied that human life is long enough for doing ordinary and extraordinary things, yet life becomes short because of our inability to manage our time.
The problem is 2000 years old and it seems that our technology and culture have not been able to improve this for the masses, yet the solution, like 2000 years ago, exists.
We as dentists have focused ourselves too much on technical skills, now it’s time to develop other skills ….the path is open …

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