Another poorly sourced post– pardon, please. (In other news: Duchess is burbling! And rolled from her tummy time on to her back, twice, while I wasn’t looking. Also, she does NOT like being away from Mama!)
A couple of months back, I read a story about how folks aren’t as good at multi-tasking as they think they are; I think Little Miss Attila linked it. IIRC, they asked folks if they thought they were good at it, then compared their efforts to how they were doing only one task, and found that they weren’t as good at doing several as they were at doing one.
There were some major flaws, but some other tests folks came up with basically supported the gist: you’re not as good at multitasking as you think.
Well, in my random way, I started noticing stuff.
My beloved husband– by the way, he finally started blogging here– is really, really good at things like doing five conversations at once by text-chat, keeping strands of a conversation straight (even when I do the going-back-to-a-conversation-a-day-later thing) or remembering the exact storyline of the four different games he’s playing at different times in a week. That said, he doesn’t notice Kit disassembling the kitchen cupboards and laying them out on the livingroom floor while he’s playing a game on the tv while setting on the couch which fills said livingroom, nor can he follow an audio conversation while reading a text conversation, and other similar disparate tasks. He can focus intensely on several similar things and keep them straight.
For myself, I have the devil’s own time doing things like keeping two conversations straight, or even keeping verbal from audio conversations– sometimes I’ll even type in words from a song I’m listening to, if I’m a bit distracted. That said, anything that’s outside of what I’m focusing on– be it words, physical tasks like cooking, or even prayer, I will notice in a heartbeat. A similar pattern carries out over most of those I’ve observed; guys tend to be good at multitasking to similar tasks (Upgrading five different computers to different programs), while women tend to be good at multitasking so long as they are totally different tasks (like doing a craft while watching/listening to TV). In fact, people tend to crave multitasking of the sort they’re good at. I get horribly bored if I have to just sit and watch something (unless it’s a theater, which is an Experience in itself) and my husband goes nuts if he’s got to wait while doing something he could do five of at one time.
Honestly, what brought my attention to this trait was watching how we cook. Elf will do exactly one thing at a time– if you’re deep-frying raviolis, he’ll stand at ready to flip them as they turn brown. On the other hand, I’ll put the fryer tray down and switch to cleaning, straightening, wiping down, jump back to check, get the garnish out, check if the water is hot enough to clean the stove, check the ravioli again, get cheese out, decide to grab a different sauce for dipping, get a pan to hold the ravioli, check them and turn them (possibly a bit crispier than desired), notice a spill on the floor, use my bleach solution on the floor and notice the trash is full, take out the trash, check the ravioli again, pull them out, drain, put in holding pan, put in the next batch, put he trash bag in the trash can, stop the Princess from touching the fryer, check the Duchess, try to remember what sauce I was going to use, flip the ravioli…. you get the idea. Elf’s has a much more consistent result, but you’re stuck in the kitchen for two hours after dinner is over cleaning things up, and dinner is cold by the time you have everything on the table.