Apr. 12th, 2011

constance: (*steeps*)
Just now, I'm sipping my postprandial chai and listening to the Kill Bill soundtrack and thinking about something I saw on my facebook feed earlier today. My we-will-call-him-friend-because-that-is-what-facebook-says-he-is-and-who-am-I-to-question-facebook was discussing, at surprising length, and with surprising conviction, what he considered to be the single defining characteristic of Smart People: their ability to multitask.

Which I disagree with, most vehemently (although not on facebook, because man, it's just best for one's mental health not to engage in facebook arguments). I don't think it's just me being insulted because my one vanity is my intelligence and I have proven myself incapable of doing more than one thing at once -- at least not if I want to do any one of those things with any sort of finesse at all (for example, in writing this, the chai is getting cold at my left wrist and I have to stop typing in order to determine which Kill Bill song we're on (it's Goodnight Moon, if you're interested, and man, I think I may just have set a record for nested parenthetical expressions)) -- it's that I've read arguments that multitasking hampers rather than increases productivity, regardless of intelligence, and other arguments in favor of working on several things concurrently, and both arguments seem reasonable to me. (Though of course, given my own take on the matter, one argument does in fact seem righter.) I think my we-will-call-him-friend-because-that-is-what-facebook-says-he-is-and-who-am-I-to-question-facebook would argue that studies that discuss the drawbacks of multitasking don't focus on exceptionally intelligent folk, which may very well be the case, but you know, I've known actual, honest-to-glory geniuses who can't multitask to save their lives, and wouldn't want to, and people of average intelligence who can juggle activities and processes much more successfully. And obviously, I've known the reverse as well.

Anyway, it seems to me that multitasking, and people's comfort levels with it, and their levels of success in doing it, have less to do with their measurable intelligence, and much more to do with the types of people that they are. And I'm just sort of curious about this: I think that anymore, most of us are forced to it at times (if not all the time), so the question's not really whether or not you multitask, but whether you're successful at it, and whether you feel comfortable doing it.

To make a long question much shorter: are you a multitasker or a single-tracker by nature? What's your system, baby?

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March 2012

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