Well chalk one up for the pot smokers. Apparently, multitasking lowers your IQ by 10 points while smoking pot only lowers it by 4 points. Shit.
The other night I took the first of a two-part teleclass on Time with the spunky smart duo of Susan Hyatt and Terry Demeo. It's not about Time Management but more about our relationship to time, as in: How do you stop feeling like there's never enough Time, and Why does it always feel like you're never doing enough with your Time (flog flog -- ow).
Until now, I always prided myself on a continual circular way of working and moving and thinking. Maybe this was my romantic way of promoting a darting, undisciplined attention span.
And so I learn the cold hard -- and liberating -- truth: I'd be better off waking and baking than parceling out my mental concentration chunks the way I do.
However, the reason why this feels liberating is because it actually sounds a lot more relaxing to give a chunk of my focus to an activity instead of being in perpectual mind motion.
And already I'm watching the behavior. For example, last night I'm in bed -- with three books to choose from, which does wonders for my reading -- and when I finally pick one to settle into, my mind tells me "There's some TheraFlu in the kitchen that would be good to have so you don't cough through the night." And off I went.
Classic behavior. Does anyone else ever do this? It's not that I can't sit still, it just takes me a while to get into the groove. And I do like being in motion, mentally or physically.
Still, it can be frustrating and defeating to be constantly darting. I can see my mental acuity passing out on the couch by midday. My working style can be a disjointed romp of: Writing a little here, Emailing a little there, a thought comes in so I get online to check god-knows-what site which reminds me of something Else and before I know it I'm totally lost. Except that I have the breadcrumbs of open windows and browsers to help me back to the beginning. So I've made a teeny bit of progress and off we go again. The writing gets started and then the email, something to check, a Facebook message to reply to and we're back at the multitasking races.
So now the practice is to dedicate myself to a project for a chunk of time and see how that goes.
The main tricks here include: closing my email, not checking Facebook (I love distractions!) and reminding myself to Stick With It. The Stick With It is made possible by the fact that some part of mywiser self knows I'll have more fulfillment, and do better work if I phase out the multitasking and go deeper with each project.
Plus the fact, I gave up pot smoking years ago, so I don't really have a choice.
And I have to admit something: I often get plagued by something I call "stoner's brain." It's when I lose my train of thought in the middle of a story, or I can't think of a word or I act generally spacey because I can't get my thought-life together and intact. I've wanted to blame it on age but I'm not 100. So maybe it's the multitasking.
It will be interesting to see if reducing multitasking will make my stoner's brain go down.
Note: here's an interesting book about Time if anyone is curious to read and learn more: The Secret Pulse of Time: Making Sense of Life's Scarcest Commodity, by Stefan Klein. Some interesting stuff in there, including why time-keeping/calendaring systems just don't work for human beings (did our caveman ancestors use them? no.)
Enjoy your gorgeous IQs and watch that multitasking!