Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"Multitasking is a myth."

i've noticed over the past couple years a sharp decline in my ability to focus, especially when i'm online. i much prefer a print newspaper or a book, because within a few minutes--maybe even seconds; i should time it--i find myself thinking about moving on when i read online.

so when i started reading Ear Plugs to Lasers: The Science of Concentration, i made an effort to quell my nomadic ways.

this part grabbed me:

“Multitasking is a myth,” Ms. Gallagher said. “You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.
i wish the journalist had expanded on this concept, because my ability to multi-task is both a talent and a curse, and i'd love to know more about the benefits and flaws of this approach... AND why it's a myth.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like she's on to something. I stopped bringing a laptop to meetings last year, and it makes a big difference. "earplugs" was covered in science section of nyt this week http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/05/science/05tier.html?_r=1&em.

sarah said...

hiya mike!
do you cart around another piece of technology to meetings... like something small that fits in your pocket? do your 'softie colleagues look at you funny when you don't unpack a laptop?

and that article you linked to is the article i referenced and linked to, silly. :)


Mike (rosoft) said...

I'm not a very careful reader... At least we get our info from the same place. You heard that they stopped printing the PI up here in rain city in March - and I couldn't stand more than a few weeks of the seattle times - so i'm now back on the paper that i started with 30 years ago.

I've gone the netbook route - and i don't know if i'm any more or less productive or attentive, but the ladies seem to dig it :-). It's 2 lbs and does everything you need in a meeting - take notes, read your blog, tetris. and the softies are blue with envy.

I have Kindle DX envy at the moment - out this summer. I'm hoping that Amazon will get smart and go the cellphone business model path - and give them a way with a book+newspaper subscription contract.

btw- you look different lately.