In a recent comment on Ken Allen's blog, Karyn Romeis cited some studies that indicated that it is not whether we can multi-task or not, but rather what actions we can multi-task in combination. This got me to thinking about what I can and cannot multi-task.
What I can't multi-task:
I can't drive and talk at the same time
I can't write my blog and listen to what my kids are saying
I can't cook and plan the next day's schedule
I can't correct papers and plan tomorrow's class
I can't search for something on the internet and listen to my kids
Things I can multi-task
I can drive and listen to my kids' stories
I can read blogs and listen to what my kids are saying
I can cook and read
I can correct papers and watch TV
I can search for something on the internet and give my kids directions
Things I can never multitask
Finally, there are somethings that I need total concentration for, with no ability to multi-task as I work on these things:
Driving during poor weather
Writing a paper (including my dissertation)
Taking down numbers or writing something that is being spelt out for me.
What does this mean?
In analyzing those that I can and those that I can't multitask in combination, I think I have trouble multi-tasking when there are two communication inputs or two communication outputs (creating and listening, for example). I also cannot multitask when the task itself is complex (a multitask) and I am still developing heuristics to accomplish the task. Once I have the skills or heuristics, it is easier for me to multitask as I can go on "auto-pilot" for those tasks for which I have developed heuristics.
I am not sure if this is something universal or unique to me (i.e. Gardner's "intelligences" where some might be able to multi-task using those skills in which they have an innate ability). I'd be interested in know what other people can and can't multi-task.
- V Yonkers
- Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.