Human multitasking is the apparent performance by an individual of handling more than one task, or activity, at the same time. An example of multitasking is taking phone calls while typing an email. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.
When you were a kid, did you ever get questioned by your Mom for watching TV, be talking on the phone and doing your homework at the same time?
Even as a kid, I liked to be doing something with my hands at the same time I was I being entertained (TV, radio, movie) and learning. I doodled on desks at school at the same time I was taking notes, looking up answers to the homework questions and listening to the teacher. I was an early multitasker.
As a teacher, I found that letting kids have access to lot’s of sensory input (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) was a good formula for encouraging on task behaviors.
I know this sounds counterintuitive. You would think that by limiting distractions, students would be more focused on work. After many years of teaching I observed silent classrooms as incubators of boredom.
Most students forced into periods of silence longer than 15 minutes fight to keep themselves from drifting off into daydreams or falling asleep. Maybe it’s the current cell phone culture, but I suspect; the brain needs more than silence to engage in learning.
If you walked into my classroom art studio if would not be unusual to hear music, see a slideshow of images, notice students moving to different stations and see tables that were crowded and students sitting by themselves. It was a fun place and more importantly a very productive environment.
I have taken this lesson about engaging my senses into my own studio. When I am working I like to stream music, flip through a magazine, watch a favorite movie, catch up on the news, play instructional videos or listen to an online series while I am really working hard at making art.
So here is a list of my current favorite multi-tasker “non” distractions:
The online series my Jerry Seinfeld “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” It is so funny and insightful. The episodes are 15 to 20 minutes. Your brain needs you to move every 20 minutes for maximum attention. This is perfect and hilarious!
NPR Podcasts. There are so many great podcasts on NPR. One of my favorites is Intelligence Squared . They have great thought provoking topics like “Too Many Kids Go to College”. Each side takes a position and argues their case in a respectful tone, with lot’s of information. It’s such a lovely break from the current media culture and you really get new insights on tough topics from real experts.
U-Tube has tons of music which runs from 2 minutes to 2 hours. I try to get a playlist that runs 40 minutes. It keeps from sitting or standing in one place for too long. When I listen to music, I tend to listen to something not in English, something that takes me to a different culture or place. All you have to do is search for “French Cafe Music” “Indian Music” “World Music”, etc…. There is so much out there and it’s free!
As a default I often listen to Ted Talks or put a familiar movie in the background. One thing that I found is a win-win, is replaying a online class lesson like the series I took from the Pixeladies on Photoshop. By replaying the video lessons I reinforced what I had learned. Most online learning courses leave lessons open for a period after the class has closed. It’s great to take advantage of hearing about the skills you practiced for a second time.
Until next time……