Hands up if you’re a bloke and can do at least three things at the same time and not lose your cool, get flustered, chip a nail or tell people around you to Shhh just because you’re concentrating on the task(s) at hand. If you can do all this please accept a congratulatory handshake from me because I’d be totally amazed if you’re a bloke and can actually multi-task without getting worked up. I know it’s a typically stereotype but in the past few days it’s all I seem to be encountering and I’m convinced that most men just can’t multi task.
Before you get the machetes out, get your chupi twisted or scroll to the bottom to look for my email address to complain bitterly just know that I’m not dissing men folk! The thing is that I am guilty of multi-tasking and I have reason to believe it’s not a good thing after all. I came across this on CNN. Take a look…
A new study suggests that people who often do multiple tasks in a variety of media — texting, instant messaging, online video watching, word processing, Web surfing, and more — do worse on tests in which they need to switch attention from one task to another than people who rarely multitask in this way.
Specifically, heavy multi-taskers are more easily distracted by irrelevant information than those who aren’t constantly in a multimedia frenzy, according to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
One reason may be because the multi-taskers tend to retain the distracting information in their short-term memory, which affects their ability to focus, compared with people who don’t check their e-mail while talking on the phone and sneaking in some online shopping
So while I’m mighty pleased that I can do more than four or five things at the same time I’ve also just learnt that my output is pretty useless in terms of attention span and retention of important information. I don’t know if this comes as a curse or a boon but I somehow managed to smash my BlackBerry and I was nought pleased about it. The Pill of Clumsy that I swallowed a fortnight ago seems to have major side effects and then some. I’m still all over the place with my thought process and actions and now I feel I actually have a reason, a valid one at that, to blame all that’s been going on.
Of course this piece of information is not about to stop me from something that seems to be a lifetime habit. No, it’s not the clumsiness. I meant the multi-tasking actually. I may behave myself for a fortnight at the most but I know very well that withdrawal symptoms will set in and I’ll start itching to do more than just one thing at a time.
But between you, me and the four walls I must admit that it’s a bit like Jack of all trades, master of none. You may be multi tasking but are you really achieving optimal results at the end? I sometimes feel that I’m not giving it my all that’s why I’m not pleased with the end result and vow to concentrate on the task at hand but I have a rather bad habit of craving the continuum of what I deem as the norm. I feel something vital is missing if I’m not doing several things at a time.
It’s the same when I get to the East FM studio every day. Typically I will plonk down my bag, log onto the network, check my emails, re-check the playlist, read the text messages that start pouring in, take phone calls on air, catch up with song requests on Facebook, reply back to emails and sneak a peek at my BlackBerry every once in a while when I think the Programme Controller isn’t looking. (I think I just dug my grave with this confession… watch this space!)
So perhaps I will set myself a new goal for the New Year to try and change my multi tasking habits and perhaps concentrate more on the task at hand, one at a time.
***FYI this column was typed out while I was chatting on MSN, checking Facebook, listening to music on the iPod, mentally pondering over what to wear to work and sorting next week’s dinner menus mentally. My editor will let me know if it’s worthy of going to print or not!!