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How common is this? Inability to multitask

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How common is this? Inability to multitask

Old 05-19-2013, 07:48 PM
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Default How common is this? Inability to multitask

Having worked in a small business all my life I can multitask like no other. I've worked in electronics and now HVAC and as a technician in both. If I'm in deep concentration working on something and a customer asks a question, or the phone rings I handle it like second nature and then go right back to what I was doing without skipping a beat. Since its so easy for me I have a hard time understanding why others can't do it.

I've got a neighbor that can be sitting still in the car and putting an address into the gps, and if, while he is inputing data, I ask who this is on the radio, he will snap "I DON'T KNOW, I'M DOING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW". Similar senarios have happened over the past few months. Whether he is doing the simplest menial task or something that actually requires a little attention, if I interupt, his response will be some sort of snap with extra info to make him sound like an ass. Another example, he was winding string on his trimmer and I told him that one of his tires on his truck was low. "I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW, I'M BUSY WITH THIS". I wanted to say "I didn't mean for you to drop that you moron, I'm just letting you know so you can take care of it when you get time". I'm a nice person so I bit my tongue.

The only time this person is ever rude is when he gets interrupted while doing something. Any other time he is a nice person.

Is this a defense mechanism? This is a successful person in charge of a lot of people where he works. At first I thought he had a problem with me but then I saw him react the same way to others.

Can you multitask?
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:24 PM
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I like to do three things at once but I do find some people are painfully unable to chew gum and walk. Others simple do not respond to anything until they get the current task at hand done.
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:27 PM
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I think multi-tasking is a bit of a misnomer since we literally, can only focus on one thing at a time.

A person who can handle multiple tasks at the same time actually seems to have an ability to start...move through...then finish, small "tasks" in a rapid order and then go back to something that wasn't completed without skipping much of a beat. It's an ability to maintain a "big picture view" while jumping from task, to task, to task.

This is how I see it and I'd like to think that I'm fairly decent at it, when I focus and organize my thoughts/tasks ahead of time.
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:36 PM
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I've seen evidence that some people that can't think and type at the same time!
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by blueflyer View Post
I think multi-tasking is a bit of a misnomer since we literally, can only focus on one thing at a time.

A person who can handle multiple tasks at the same time actually seems to have an ability to start...move through...then finish, small "tasks" in a rapid order and then go back to something that wasn't completed without skipping much of a beat. It's an ability to maintain a "big picture view" while jumping from task, to task, to task.

This is how I see it and I'd like to think that I'm fairly decent at it, when I focus and organize my thoughts/tasks ahead of time.
Close to how I feel. The answer to, "is someone good at multi or multiple tasks" is, were the various tasks completed correctly and timely?

During "orientation" my first year of college, the professor said, "if you want something done... give it to the busiest person you know." That saying ALWAYS stuck with me. Having many things to accomplish requires you to plan and focus, if you want them all accomplished. Doing all of them at the same time doesn't necessarily mean that they will be finished on time or completed in the best way.
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:59 PM
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I can multi task

With that said I rather concentrate on one project at a time and do it as perfect as possible. I mean something significant not putting wire on the weed eater lol that's simple enough to be able to do and listen to my neighbor
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by baypro21 View Post
Having worked in a small business all my life I can multitask like no other. I've worked in electronics and now HVAC and as a technician in both. If I'm in deep concentration working on something and a customer asks a question, or the phone rings I handle it like second nature and then go right back to what I was doing without skipping a beat. Since its so easy for me I have a hard time understanding why others can't do it.

I've got a neighbor that can be sitting still in the car and putting an address into the gps, and if, while he is inputing data, I ask who this is on the radio, he will snap "I DON'T KNOW, I'M DOING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW". Similar senarios have happened over the past few months. Whether he is doing the simplest menial task or something that actually requires a little attention, if I interupt, his response will be some sort of snap with extra info to make him sound like an ass. Another example, he was winding string on his trimmer and I told him that one of his tires on his truck was low. "I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW, I'M BUSY WITH THIS". I wanted to say "I didn't mean for you to drop that you moron, I'm just letting you know so you can take care of it when you get time". I'm a nice person so I bit my tongue.

The only time this person is ever rude is when he gets interrupted while doing something. Any other time he is a nice person.

Is this a defense mechanism? This is a successful person in charge of a lot of people where he works. At first I thought he had a problem with me but then I saw him react the same way to others.

Can you multitask?

You are not really multitasking. You are good at switching from one task to another and then back again. Others concentrate more on what they are doing (not necessarily good or bad) so the more you are concentrating on a task, the more disruptive it is for your brain when you switch to something else and then switch back again.

That's not a dig, saying that you don't concentrate enough on the task at hand - it just means that some people devote 100% of their focus on what they are doing, (these are the people who hate switching) and others who devote a smaller percentage of their focus on what they are doing and as a result can switch with less disruption.

It could be that the other person needs to concentrate harder on the task than you do - picture you driving a car vs a 16 year old just learning how to drive. On the other extreme, picture someone who THINKS they can text and drive, and you are behind them, well aware that they are an inattentive driver.

Make sense?
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:13 AM
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A true multi tasker is like a 1 man band. Not too many peole can play 2 or more instraments at the same time. How many 1 man bands are better than a good band? Very few. He probably isn't even the best player of any single instrament. Some people jump from task to task and their main goal is to put in enough effort to complete the tasks at hand. Others do 1 thing at a time and devote all of their attention to it, assuring that they won't make a mistake and have to revisit the task. Neither is wrong. The OCD single tasker may be slower but will be more carefull everything is done right. The "multi tasker" may have some small things overlooked or shortcutted. It depends on the task as to how much that's going to matter.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:19 AM
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I think multi-tasking is highly over rated. I hear people bragging all the time about how wonderful they are at multi-tasking, and then they seem to screw everything up! I prefer to focus on one thing at a time when doing things that require concentration. My son gets me off task all the time and it is more of a hinderance than anything. Sure, I can come back to what I was doing, but it creates more problems than it helps.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:23 AM
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Some days I can barely unitask!!
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:40 AM
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I can multitask in just about any of the construction fields, being that I've worked at them my whole life .
But if you asked me something while I was loading my GPS, I take your head off too.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:49 AM
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I recall being interviewed for a short-term assignment (as an IT contractor) with a government agency. Pretty much the first thing asked by the person conducting the interview, was "Can you multi-task? Because we don't want anyone here who cannot".

Later on, I discovered that the interviewer (who was the IT leader for that location), turned out to very much like Baypro's friend in that regard.

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Old 05-20-2013, 11:09 AM
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One day when my kids were young and in school, they would have the radio on while doing their homework and sometime singing along (to themselves) while writing or doing math or something else.
I ask, "How can you concentrate with the radio on?"
My son's answer was something to the effect of, doing this is teaching them to be able to concentrate on the task at hand (homework) while there are distractions around them (radio).
While they are aware things are going on around them, kinda like peripheral vision, you are aware it is there while concentrating on the main task.
Hence, learning to multi-task in a way.
Like the OP said, being able to stop then resume without missing a beat.


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Old 05-20-2013, 11:20 AM
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http://hrilab.tufts.edu/publications...yetal11chi.pdf

A pretty clear explanantion.
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:26 AM
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I'm talking to a lady about how her internet isn't working and typing this :D I think I work better on THT !
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Knoxes View Post

ummmmmm.....OK
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Knoxes View Post
Oh, now I understand what is wrong with me.
Multi-tasking= OK
The attention span needed to read that article= I don't have it.


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Old 05-20-2013, 11:30 AM
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Back in the day we called a multi-tasker a "Jack of all trades, and master of none".....
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by baypro21 View Post
Having worked in a small business all my life I can multitask like no other. I've worked in electronics and now HVAC and as a technician in both. If I'm in deep concentration working on something and a customer asks a question, or the phone rings I handle it like second nature and then go right back to what I was doing without skipping a beat. Since its so easy for me I have a hard time understanding why others can't do it.

I've got a neighbor that can be sitting still in the car and putting an address into the gps, and if, while he is inputing data, I ask who this is on the radio, he will snap "I DON'T KNOW, I'M DOING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW". Similar senarios have happened over the past few months. Whether he is doing the simplest menial task or something that actually requires a little attention, if I interupt, his response will be some sort of snap with extra info to make him sound like an ass. Another example, he was winding string on his trimmer and I told him that one of his tires on his truck was low. "I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW, I'M BUSY WITH THIS". I wanted to say "I didn't mean for you to drop that you moron, I'm just letting you know so you can take care of it when you get time". I'm a nice person so I bit my tongue.

The only time this person is ever rude is when he gets interrupted while doing something. Any other time he is a nice person.

Is this a defense mechanism? This is a successful person in charge of a lot of people where he works. At first I thought he had a problem with me but then I saw him react the same way to others.

Can you multitask?
You just handle interruptions better than he does. You're not really multitasking anyway, it's task switching. Can you carry on a conversation with two people simultaneously? Talk and listen about two different subjects with two people at the same time? Probably not.

I work for a global corporation and just took a mandatory course which discussed this topic. It's becoming discouraged in the workplace, since you perform neither task as well. Put down the phone and drive. Put down the blackberry and check your emails after the meeting...etc.
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:58 AM
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I am definitely a multi tasker. Normally have several windows on the computer opened at the same time doing various projects, including posting on the THT! Downside is that I have alot of typos if I don't take the time to reproof my work. My freaking brain goes 100 miles a minute. I wish I could slow it down sometimes.
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