Multitasking is a myth

NYT for Tierney article 5/5/09


Ear Plugs to Lasers: The Science of Concentration by John Tierney is pretty interesting, but it's the illustration by Victor Koen that I couldn't resist.

It's about concentration. As Jenny Bornholdt lamented in a poem, you can't read and listen to the radio at the same time. Winifred Gallagher is one of the researchers quoted.

“Multitasking is a myth,” Ms. Gallagher said. “You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.

“People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money,” she said. “Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.”

She has tips for concentrating and doing your best brainwork. But you can read that for yourself. (Don't start the day with email...) I just had to show a brilliant image that millions have doubtless seen already.

Now I'm going to focus.


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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