Getting Ready to Get Ready and Singletasking.

I need to start this post with a brief diversion. Call it social housekeeping.

Can we all agree to stop using the terms “world wide web” and the gut-wrenching “information superhighway”when we talk about the Internet?

We get it.

You can let those go along with saying “1-800” when giving out a phone number. We all know by now you need to dial a 1 in most places in the US to get another area code.

I imagine it takes a while to drop phrases like that from the lexicon. Much like during the early 1900’s folks said “Nineteen Hundred and Ten” for 1910. Looking ahead we’ll be saying Twenty Ten and leaving Two Thousand and … for the aught years.

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We’re a culture of overachievers. Or so we would like folks to believe.

Though the Web has been around for over 20 years, most of us are only ten years into it as far as personal computing goes.

Prior to 1995 I don’t recall having heard the term “multitasking” in my work or home life. I mean we did more than one thing at a time like cooking and being on the telephone, but we didn’t have a name for it. Nor did we care if there was one.

I read a great blog article today from The New Atlantis written by Christine Rosen called The Myth of Multitasking.

She discussed the term in detail from concept to colloquialism citing references in literature and research studies. It’s a great read and so as not to paraphrase her, I suggest that you click on the link and read it for yourself.

There was a section in the article that sticks with me. She wrote about a 1999 study where Jordan Grafman, Chief of Cognitive Neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, used a type of MRI scan to determine that when people engage in “task-switching” there is increased blood flow to the frontal cortex of the brain.

To be clear, task-switching isn’t multitasking, but the behavior associated with it: The act of switching between one task and another.

Other scientists have found evidence of a bottleneck in the brain from having to sort out which task to perform and when.

Now there is hope that we will eventually develop this as a natural ability, but so far we are all dealing with this bottleneck and becoming increasingly less effective and more importantly: STRESSED.

Ok, I’ll take off my lab coat for the moment as I’m not a Doctor (but I do play one in this blog). What I am is a songwriter in today’s world.

When I write, there are some times when I just pick up the guitar and play someting new, jotting down what I’ve just played. Similarly, there are times when I can just sit down and type out lyrics into Notepad. I rarely write with a pen these days as my office is as close to a paperless office as one I’ve ever heard of. The fact is, I’m writing lyrics only at that point.

For those of you that read this blog religiously (yes, both of you) you know that I recently bought my Line 6 Toneport UX2.

It’s a USB interface that I plug my guitar into that allows me to record into recording software. The Toneport uses a sister software component called Gearbox which is what I use to set what I want my guitar to sound like, or keep my guitar in tune. It also allows me to use a metronome that functions as a tiny drum machine module.

So, where I used to sit down with a pen paper and guitar, I now sit with my guitar, computer, Notepad, Toneport, Gearbox, metronome and tuner.

All this technology is fantastic, to be truthful, and I love how I sound now. The fact is from a writer’s standpoint, it takes me a lot longer to write a tune.

By the time I’ve got everything set right, it’s either time for the next meal, a shower, or bedtime.

There’s a lot of time spent on “getting ready to get ready”.

Often I find myself less productive as far as writing goes, but I sure do have fun with all the virtual knobs and switches. 😉

To actually do two things at once is not always possible. I find that I do part of one, then part of another, then back to the rest of the one until eventually it all gets done with only partial attantion paid to detail. Invariably, I’ll forget something. To me that’s not being productive. It’s not me doing my best.

I guess the key is to compartmentalize. Do my set up one day, and write down what I set up. Then unplug and come back later to actually write, paying no attention to how things are set up. Just focusing on the writing.

Singletasking.

There’s a concept. Nothing like coming up with a new phrase to define what we’ve been doing for thousands of years that previously needed no definition.

I guess we just need to figure out when to Multitask and when to Singletask. I can cook and talk, but I still can’t sneeze and keep my eyes open. 😎

-V

 

 

3 Responses

  1. SEO Boot Camp Says:

    Added. Nice work on this one. Walter

  2. Songwriting News (7/20/08) Amie Street, Andrew Bird and more Says:

    […] Multitasking is a songwriting killer (Adventures in Songwriting) When I write, there are some times when I just pick up the guitar and play someting new, jotting down what I’ve just played. Similarly, there are times when I can just sit down and type out lyrics into Notepad. I rarely write with a pen these days as my office is as close to a paperless office as one I’ve ever heard of. The fact is, I’m writing lyrics only at that point. [Read More] […]

  3. This Week In Songwriting (28/06/08) Says:

    […] responds to the The Myth Of Multitasking from a songwriting […]

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