We are all getting dumber, one task at a time.

I'm not a fan of multi-tasking. And I think that an interview question designed to assess whether someone has this golden skill is ridiculous.

I will admit that I have absolutely no skills in that area. Seriously, none. Like to the extreme. For example, last night, I was leaving the gym, walking down a long set of stairs. I just started to dive into my thoughts about how proud I was of completing that particular workout. Unfortunately, this meant not concentrating on walking down the stairs. Oh yeah, I'm all kind of uncoordinated like that. Tragedy was averted when I dropped what I was carrying and caught myself on the hand rail and some nice guy chased down my water bottle that was rolling down the stairs. My utter lack of coordination (and balance for that matter) may be a rarity and I am still trying to convince myself that it's part of my charm. I am the only person I know that can trip going *up* the stairs. Anyway, at the bottom of it, it's just that I cannot multitask. And if I try to multitask and one of those tasks is walking in a way more complex than walking straight ahead, I can't do it. I know...I sound simple. Think what you want. I'm challenged in that way.

I do admire people that can successfully juggle a bunch of things, a computer, a cell phone, hailing a cab, etcetera. I guess I never took into account that the person is probably not doing any of those things well. But really, how well does someone need to hail a cab? You either do it you don't. I guess my point is that I can appreciate someone with the ability to do it,in certain circumstances where the task is mundane to the point of not requiring proficiency. Talk on the phone/feed the dog. Watch TV/put on your shoes. But even I can do those things.

I think that part of my distaste for multitasking is due to the fact that I kind of require perfection of myself. Well, as close to it as I can get. And I have found through trial and error that I can't achieved the desired outcome if I multitask. And therefore something that is designed to save time actually wastes my time because I have to go back and do it over. I hate that. It's like writing a long blog post and closing the window without remembering to save it. Oh, how many times have I done that? And each time, I think that it was the one post that was pure brilliance. Hee.

Anyway, here is an article that I read that basically shows that the habit of multitasking makes one predisposed to imperfection. I already knew this about myself, but it turns out that I am not as unusual as I think. Just a little less coordinated. Catch me.

Comments (12)

  1. tod says:

    I’ve tripped going *up* the stairs. Even recently. Good times. 🙂

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    I did it in Vegas. On the strip. In my running shoes. Grrrr.

  3. murman says:

    I wonder if the editor was multitasking. Between the reference to some dude named Ness (related to Nass?) and the gem of a quote, “What happens to people who multitasking all the time?” it could be a prime example of such imperfections.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    I saw the quote too, thought maybe English was the author’s secondary language. Or could have been a typo in production. But yeah, point taken.

  5. Michael Henreckson says:

    Interesting, especially the point that you make about multi-tasking being forced upon us. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do to avoid the interruptions that cause the poor quality of our work. But it’s probably good to make an effort to focus on one thing at a time.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    I find those times of intense focus to be a lot more satisfying anyway!

  7. Todd in Chicago says:

    Heather……not to worry, we will always catch you!



    Todd in Chicago

  8. Programmerman says:

    I can definitely see it in everything I do. The more I’m doing at once, the worse each thing gets, and the longer it takes to get to a finishing point, which is always a worse finishing point than if I’d just focused on one task at a time.

    Also, you’re not the only one who can trip up stairs. While I’ve never done it on the Strip, I’ve done it plenty of other places. Sometimes on purpose for comedic effect, though it’s been a while since I’ve done it on purpose (mostly because it was never funny).

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    Awww, Todd. Thanks!

    Programmerman – perhaps stair trippers are unconsiously drawn here 🙂

  10. Max says:

    Multitasking is a myth. I know that I can’t do it at all. Check http://www.brainrules.net/attention. Interesting stuff.

  11. K Smith says:

    I’d just like to make one comment on this – wait a minute, the phone is ringing…

    Now what was I saying?

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    K SMith – story of my (recent) life.

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