Friday, April 3, 2009


Today, just after I read Carlomagno's final chapter on giving up multitasking, I read that apparently mulitasking is a myth. We simply cannot do more than one thing at a time. We only switch between tasks, and don't focus on any of them. This I believe. It is difficult not to multitask. Even as I work at not doing it, I find myself attempting to check my e-mail and voice mail at the same time, as if I could answer more than one thing at a time. It does take some concentration, and discipline, to put down one thing to focus on another. This is something I work hard at as a reference librarian. There is often "down time" when I am sitting at the reference desk, this is time that I might try to catch up on some professional reading, or grade papers. I have to stop what I am doing though to help someone who approaches the desk. It is tempting to keep trying to do two things at once when the question is a simple "where's the bathroom", but I don't do it. My custom is to set down what I am doing and make eye contact no matter how easily the question can be answered. Some of the patrons could probably take a lesson from this. They talk on their cell phone while they are trying to also have a conversation with me. One gentlemen approached the desk asking where the Park Ave. exit was, while he was still talking to someone else. I pointed in the direction of Park Ave., but before I could explain that he would have to go down the steps to get there he was off still chattering away with someone else. He came back 2 minutes later, still on the cell phone, to tell me he couldn't find the exit. What a surprise.

1 comment:

  1. Cell phones add an extra dimension to the multitasking problem, because one of the tasks involves a conversation in which one interlocutor who cannot see the what the other one is doing. The results can be annoying (as with the meandering patron in your story), costly, or even fatal.

    The bumper sticker "Hang up and drive!" should be amended to read "Hang up and live!"