Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Multitasker Vacay

It's 1:00 on a Tuesday. "Lunch hour". Ha ha.

At this moment, I'm making color-coded signs for the music stands in my percussion section, having an email conversation with a coworker, wolfing down eating lunch, and "watching" Smash on Hulu in the background.
Oh yeah. And writing a blog post.

At night, during "downtime", if I'm doing the dishes, I'm also watching TV, eating, drinking, texting, and checking facebook.

And I can't not do this. I'm a compulsive, serial multitasker.
Just like everybody else, I bet.

If only I had the balance.

Here's yet another story on the evils of doing too many things at once, this one on Time's Techland blog. It sites a study that says doing too many things at once may even impede your short-term memory. Funny, I thought all the coffee, sleep-deprivation, moderate alcohol consumption, and exposure to lawn pesticides did that. Ooh, I could really use some coffee, and - nevermind. There is coffee in front of me, right on the desk. Helloooo, short-term memory. Where'd you go?
Honest-to-God I don't think I could focus on one thing at a time unless I truly had to.

Which is why I really enjoyed a little lark I had this past weekend. Ready for more of my inner geek? Playing horn in the pit of a high school show, I had to be very focused on a task for long stretches. Ok, long-er stretches. That goal: basically, trying not to suck.
Or get kicked in the head by kids who were easing on down the road. Happily, I only failed at one of those goals, and had the bruise on my temple to prove it. Yes, it's like I'm proud of a war wound. What?
Later it occurred to me that, though I was watching the show and texting during the songs I for which I was tacet, it was a very focused experience.

No Multi.
Just Task: Play - and that was it.

I wasn't quite comfortable enough with the music or the situation to really let my mind wander.  And let the multi-car worry train roll by my brain.  It was kind of an exercise in staying in the moment. Keeping on the job. Cause there was a yellow brick road built around the pit and we couldn't get out anyway.
One night, Miss M and E were running around rehearsal.
Yeah... I didn't care. Felt no need to keep even half and eye on them.
Or think about school.
Or my concerts, deadlines, jobs, obligations, the fact that I hadn't put E's liquid fluoride vitamin in her Pediasure in days... nadda.
One job, for a few hours. What a delicious novelty.

However, I'm sure we could find some study somewhere claiming that playing an instrument improves your short-term memory.  The irony I'm enjoying here is because anybody who plays anything will tell you that music is actually a well-honed balance of mental and and physical multi-tasking.  You read, follow, internalize beat and pitch, anticipate, regulate breath and muscle control, blend, react, and adapt to the sound of your own and others' playing.  All simultaneously.
Or at least you make a valiant effort.

Also an option.

But...that's ALL I had to do, pure and simple. Without even trying, there was no multitasking. No diapers or phone calls I really should make in the meantime. Even more beautifully, no other thoughts eeking in to distract.
Coming back from Lala land and realizing this phenomenon, I thought:
How. Cool. Is. THAT?!
Is it lame that I'm finding THIS experience - thinking about one thing for an extended time period - to be kind of profound? Or at least, blog-worthy? Is it a sad commentary on the jumbled state of life and brain? Probably. But I'll only care until I get distracted by something else.

Hmmm, and thinking about that level of refreshingly singular focus...
Is this why people meditate?
Yeah, I couldn't meditate, I would need to be - *cue email sound*
Crap! I forgot to fix the lesson schedule for next week and oh shoot, E's appointment at duPont needs scheduled and I have to label the percussion stands and -
And then I promptly begin doing 4 things at once again.
Of course.
See above.

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