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I have enough trouble talking on the phone at home. I'm a very visual person, so I have to tune out the input from my eyes in order to "hear" properly. Since I'm unwilling to do that while driving, calling me while I'm in the car is sort of pointless, because I literally won't understand what you're saying. As a result, if I get a call when I'm in the car, my response tends to be "I'm in the car. Call me back later." *click*

I like the way that you pointed out that some forms of "multi-tasking" are just skipping from task to task in a somewhat manic fashion. As someone who has an attention span that's not what it used to be, I lose focus if I do one thing for too long. So I tend to have several projects in process at the same time, so I can shift from one to the next and thus stay productive when I get bored with one of them. But it much more resembles the 24 minutes per task scenario you describe.

About the only "tasks" I can do simultaneously are those that activate very different senses - photo-processing while listening to the radio, for example, or knitting when D's talking to me. But that's not so much about being productive as calming my fidgetty self so that I can focus on something that otherwise wouldn't require all of my attention and bore me. I listen better while knitting; I have to work to stay focused on listening if I don't knit (sometimes I even have to close my eyes to shut out other stimuli); I can't listen if there's any text near me - my brain will shift over entirely to reading and register none of the spoken words.


I would like to know how Pavlov managed to transfer his dog/bell experiment to humans. Why do we feel compelled to answer the G/D telephone when it rings, at the expense of the conversation we may be having with someone physically in front of us? How did Ma Bell manage to train us this way?

Granted with voice mail and answering machines picking up the phone immediately is not quite as "necessary" as it once was, but still.

daniel reilly

I would like to comment on the last post .... wait my cell phone is ringing- --- no it's a text --sorry gotta go


I dunno, do you explain the old saw "one handed typing"? ;-)


So agree, you really can only do one thing at once, mentally.. today I was reading an absorbing article in the Times, and their was some interview on the radio. My ears perked up when I realized it was James Ellroy , who I find interesting indeed. But so was the article, and I really tried to do both, listen and read. But the two verbal formats clashed, obviously, can't really do it. But you can enjoy nonverbal things like music while reading, or drawing at the same time. Interesting, and i suppose obvious.

But to get things done, yeah, concentration is needed. Driving included, an important task indeed.

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