Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'd agree Charlie. I was thinking, Military pilots for example, need to multi-task like crazy when flying, but each individual task and decision to be made is *relatively* simple - they just need to be done quickly and efficiently. Having said that I don't think they're suffering too much from attention deficit.

On another note
US panic at China's new ship killer

Monday, September 28, 2009

A thoroughly interesting study on a hot topic. However, I wouldn’t take it at face value without reading the study in full.

Without reading the study in full, there are a couple of issues the researchers might not have investigated:

-Issue of task complexity. More complex tasks are less amenable to multi-tasking. However, simple tasks can be multi-tasked. From the sound of it, the study implemented complex tasks that require the participants to devote attention and memory resources.

-Issue of expert vs novice. There’s quite a lot of studies around what constitutes an expert. There’s some consensus that experts tends to bypass many decision-making barriers and jump straight to the conclusion based on prior experience. They do this through a form of cognitive ‘rules of thumb’ or ‘heuristics’. It would be reasonable to assert that experts might be better at multi-tasking without impeding their cognitive function than novices, who are still trying to learn the ropes.

Multitasking: Not just counter-productive, could hinder cognitive function


Far from solving the problems of the time-poor professional, according to a recent study multitasking is ineffective and could be detrimental to your concentration and ability to process information. The Stanford University study, published last month, found that multitasking did not enable participants to process multiple sources of information concurrently and hampered the participant’s ability to perform their primary task. The study further suggested but could not confirm that multitasking could hamper or even ruin the brain’s ability to concentrate on a single task.

The prevailing attitude in a number of academic disciplines, notably Educational Psychology, had for many years been that the human brain can process only one stream of information, or perform one complex task, at a time. As multitasking became fashionable in industry and education, anecdotal evidence from a number of disciplines suggested there must be some faculty to enable the brain to learn to process complex information and work on a number of difficult tasks simultaneously. The purpose of this study was to prove or disprove an empirical basis for these assertions.

Surprisingly, the study found that participants who identified themselves as frequent and accomplished multitaskers performed significantly worse than their peers in a number of tests to examine their ability to focus on and memorise information. Frequent multitaskers exhibited an inability to ignore distractions and information that was irrelevant for the task at hand. The study suggests multitasking could be detrimental to memory and concentration. According to the authors, further research is necessary to determine whether multitasking as a learned behaviour damages the ability to concentrate or whether people are pre-disposed to multitasking and poor concentration.

The practical application of this data could be quite significant. Without evidence to support the ‘damaging learned behaviour’ it would seem fair to suggest that multitasking is ineffective. Multitasking has been factored in to the nature of many professional occupations and, whilst we might not be able to cease multitasking altogether, there are certainly a number of opportunities to better manage its ill-effects.

1. Time Management

Better time management and scheduling can help keep a single task as your priority before you move to the next.

If you have to monitor emails or manage other distractions set yourself boundaries like checking them every half hour.

2. Avoid distractions where possible

Think outside the square when it comes to avoiding distraction. This is important for study as well. For example as an undergraduate I used to have ‘study’ earmuffs. My brother played the saxophone and my sister is a drummer so getting some peace and quiet in order to study was not easy. My solution was to lob up to the local hardware store for a pair of industrial earmuffs, the kind you wear to operate a jackhammer. The highest strength models retail for about $50 but you can get a pair of cheapies that will do the job for about half that. This sort of drastic option might be inappropriate for a quiet office, and doesn’t look particularly good to your boss, but merely shutting your door can be very helpful in focussing your attention.

3. Limit yourself to one window

Don’t have facebook or twitter sitting open while you are trying to work. If you really are that desperate to know what Ashton Kutcher thinks of his cheeseburger, the inability to concentrate on a single task is the least of your problems.

More on the McGurk saga coz I know you want it.

A lot of bold claims in that article. Counsel's advice to the publisher would be just as interesting to read...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pretty funny and awesome:

Stormtroopers Reflect on 9/11

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

While none of us are that into fishing (I presume), LOL

The key scene is 1:10.

Friday, September 04, 2009

I've been following this story for the last few months but didn't link the news reports last night until I read that article. Tragic that the guy was executed. And in front of his children no less.

I didn't think property developers go ghetto this decade...