skill management...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Tuesday, October 26, 2010 8:16 AM
It's easy to do two things at the same time, as long as one of those actions is a practiced skill that you can do almost automatically. For example, walking and talking is easy. And some people can play the guitar and sing, as long as they have practiced both of those skills until one requires virtually no conscious thought.

But you can't do two things at the same time that both require original thinking.

I know this first hand because my wife, Shaila, likes to bring up conversations in the car that involve rotating three-dimensional objects in my mind while expecting me to simultaneously navigating to our destination. This doesn't work out so well.

The actual driving of the car is easy, because that is a practiced skill. But trying to imagine the correct route to our destination is impossible for me if Shaila is simultaneously asking me to imagine the optimal placement of living room furniture.

The other day, as I was cleaning pasta sauce off of every inch of the inside of the microwave, I was reminding Shaila of my bandwidth limitation for spatial manipulation.

I cajoled her in engaging me in a conversation involving the manipulation of objects while expecting that I would simultaneously be able to imagine the proper combination of pasta, sauce, a bowl, and (this next part is key) a cover inside a microwave. I managed to put four out of five objects in the right place, and frankly felt good about it.

I have a practiced theory that music appreciation resides in the same part of your brain where you think about yourself. That might be why it's good to listen to music while doing boring tasks, such as going for a long walk, because music interferes with your mind's ability to think about yourself.

I also find it impossible to do any sort of creative writing while listening to music, perhaps for the same reason: Creativity springs from a deep examination of self, which you then generalize, and music seems to share that bandwidth.

I can, however, listen to music and manipulate three-dimensional objects in my mind just fine. Those functions don't seem to interfere with each other.

I wonder if we humans will get to a point where we understand how to manage the different parts of our brains in the best fashion. For example, if you have an important upcoming task that involves manipulating objects in your mind, is it better to practice spatial tasks all morning or better to rest that capacity of your brain until you need it?

During some period of my life, I wrote a number of computer programs that involved intense manipulation of objects in my mind, for hours each day. I discovered that it was difficult to be social at night when my mind had been manipulating object during the day.

It felt as if I were deep inside a cave and yelling to the people who stood at the cave opening. It seemed as if the practice of programming interfered with, or exhausted, the part of my brain that handles social skills.

It is generally agreed that playing soccer is a good crossover skill for playing tennis, probably because of the footwork. Could we get to the point of understanding the brain where, for example, we tutor someone who is struggling in math by asking him to do non-math tasks that are complementary to the math-handling part of the brain?

I wonder, does playing a highly spatial video game for hours a day help your math skills, exhaust them, or have no impact?

If you have a date in the evening, will you be at your most witty and charming if you spent the hours ahead of the date doing light exercise, reading a novel, or assembling some IKEA furniture?

I'll bet there's a right answer to that question.

5 Response to "skill management..."

  1. shivani Says:

    hahaha good one about you managing skills while Shaila is trying to get you attentive.
    Certain tasks i find difficult too like u do.
    These do not involve 3 dimensional objects at all.Like getting everything that my husband has said while i am deeply into a book or even watching a movie.
    And definitely when the mind is really trying to figure out some configurations it does interfere with the social skills and i agree to that.
    All this is valid but that leaves me wondering if i am showing signs of senility or the younger generations are born with the additional faculties of Multitasking.
    i look at them and sometimes feel like banging my head against the wall.
    Enjoyed this post too...very well said indeed!!

  2. Tandarin Nike Says:

    Thanks very much for your comment Shivani.
    No need to really bang your head. We from the earlier generation have had our good times and have really not been too much pressured to get multiple tasks done.
    The generation today and their way of life has become quite fast with having to, rush back and forth to work, school, shopping, appointments as well as taking phone calls, cooking cleaning. These demands make the list literally endless.
    Today we all tend to try and do as many things in one go as is possible and this we call ‘multitasking’. Also use of new technology to accomplish several tasks at the same time is also the name of the game. As you are probably aware, the possible dangers of multitasking have also emerged, such as the use of cell phones and other electronic gadgets whilst driving which have now been declared an illegal act.
    It is also found that multitasking can contribute to the release of stress hormones and adrenaline which if not controlled can cause long term health problems.
    I for one try to concentrate on one job at a time, as, on the professional front, the quote 'a stitch in time saves nine' is very relevant.
    When it comes to Shaila, I am forced to multitask. It's fun though…. as there is lot of laughter on my failure to accomplish more than what I can chew.

  3. Raquel Veloso Says:

    As mulheres são seres especiais exatamente pela sua imensa capacidade de fazer coisas diferentes, ao mesmo tempo e, ao longo de sua execução conversar ao telefone. Exatamente aí que se encontra o diferencial de mulheres e homens. Parabens a Shaila.

  4. Tandarin Nike Says:

    Sim!!!! Caro amigo Joao. As mulheres definitivamente fazer mltiplas postos de trabalho e fazer a melhor do que os homens. Mais postos de trabalho feito por mulheres são thankless. Hoje as mulheres estão lentamente correr o mundo. Mesmo a sua Presidente é uma das mulheres e tem solicitado as mulheres a ser assertivo e passar nos locais em sua sociedade. Graças a sua Joao nice observações.

  5. Job Interview Questions Says:

    Exatamente aí que se encontra o diferencial de mulheres e homens. Parabens a Shaila...
    Thanks..
    Latest Jobs in Bangalore

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