Creative Boredom

Computing has given us the useful word multitasking – “to schedule and execute multiple tasks (program) simultaneously; control being passed from one to the other using interrupts.”

The part of that definition that is usually ignored is the ‘interrupts’ — i.e. the processor is not really executing all tasks simultaneously; it is switching between tasks, giving the illusion of parallelism.

The same is true of multi-tasking in humans. It is an illusion.

Everyone seems to be trying to do more things simultaneously. Driving and texting, listening to music and reading, talking on the phone and typing, memorizing Latin verbs and writing on people’s Facebook walls — I could think of many other examples, but you get the idea.

It’s a bit like juggling. If you don’t drop a ball, it’s considered a success.

But work, school, socializing aren’t as simple as balls tossed into the air; they are activities that can be done with varying degrees of completeness and finesse.

Some people claim that they work better when they are trying to do three things at once — the more, the better.

The truth (and I am not talking about computers here) is this: doing two linguistic tasks simultaneously is not possible. Our brains can’t do that. You may think you are writing your essay and talking to your friend, but you are actually switching between tasks. And you are taking twice as long to do it.Thirty minutes of working on essay + thirty minutes of talking to your friend = two hours of real time. And the essay is probably crap. More

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