The brain can do only one thing at a time

“Multitasking is over rated.” —Leon Aldridge

Recent discussion with a friend over the practice of doing multiple things simultaneously (a.k.a. multitasking) led me to research the topic, and as expected, expert opinions agree that multitasking is in reality, not possible. The brain can do only one thing efficiently at a time. I already knew that. I conducted my own personal research at home last week.

It was admittedly not scientific research, but none-the-less conclusive. Turn a frozen dinner (TV dinner to my generation) into a gourmet meal for one—“Easy Peasy.” Manage a “look what the cat drug up” escapade—a bit more daunting maybe, but not impossible. Carry on a phone conversation from an old friend—piece of cake. But, throw them all together into one evening, and then let me know how that multitasking stuff works for you.

cat art blogIt started innocently enough with the “prefab” dinner in the oven. The offering of frozen gourmet meals at supermarkets today is nothing short of amazing, especially when compared to the TV dinners in aluminum trays that was half of my college cuisine. That and cheeseburgers.

Things were well underway for dinner. The oven timer was set, a place at the table was prepared with condiments neatly arranged on the table.

This was about the time I was leisurely thumbing through the latest issue of Hot Rod Deluxe magazine while waiting for the oven timer to summon me back to the kitchen. It’s also when the cat appeared at the back door. Now, it’s possible I might have noticed she had something with her had I not been deeply engrossed in the magazine. As it was, she was already through the door bounding for the laundry room when I saw it. It was moving. And, worse—it was a snake.

This is about the best time to interject that I’m one who believes there is only one good kind of snake. Add to that I’ve also long subscribed to the theory that a live snake’s place is not in the house. A lunge toward the snake-toting cat was too little, too late. This was also about the time the phone rang. Should I answer it, or, should I pursue the cat with the snake? And, it seems like I was doing something else when all this started…what was it?

”Hello.”

“Yes, hey I’m fine, how are you?” Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on being cordial when you’re pretty sure there’s a reptile loose in the house. And, what else was it that I was doing?

This was about the time I saw the cat dart out the still open back door. “You better get out,” I hollered. “Oh, no, not you,” I told my friend on the phone. Did she take the snake with her, I wondered? Perhaps the only thing worse than knowing there’s a snake in the house is wondering if there’s a snake in the house.

“Yes,” I continued the conversation while looking all around my feet. It has been a long time, hasn’t it? “Uh-oh, dinner’s ready,” I said aloud. “No,” I told my friend, “We can talk. Hang on for a minute.” I removed dinner from the oven and placed it on the stove top before returning to our conversation. A short time later, we shared good-byes with a vow to not wait another 25 years before talking, ignoring the fact that the long shot at Saturday’s horse race has better odds than another 25 years for us at our age.

This was about the time I decided I should conclude whether or not I was sharing my living quarters with a snake. A search under the dryer and behind the water heater, in the clothes hamper and under the utility room sink cabinet utilizing a flashlight with dying batteries turned up no snake. I shifted my sleuthing efforts to the back porch from which the cat and snake had come, and to where the cat returned. Maybe, just maybe, she carried the thing back outside with her. The same failing flashlight uncovered only the furry feline curled up and sleeping soundly on the porch rocker. Returning to the house, I continued looking on my way to the bedroom, deciding there had been enough action for one night. Still no snake.

Morning came and the critter was still on my mind as l went about preparing for another day at the office. Heading for the kitchen in need of caffeine, I was tiptoeing through the house looking for a snake when I rounded the corner into the kitchen and was startled at the sight of a hot oven and last night’s mealtime offering still sitting on the stove top.

So much for multitasking. Hot dinner was a disaster, I never found the snake, and my phone visit was cut short by crazy events of the evening. This week, I’ve switched to cold sandwiches and the cat doesn’t come inside without a full TSA shake down.

Oh, and the online research? It also concluded that multitasking has been decisively proven to be an ineffective way to work citing repeated evidence that performance suffers when people multitask.

Again, who needs scientific research. It’s just as over rated as multitasking.

— Leon Aldridge

4 thoughts on “The brain can do only one thing at a time

  1. I would pay good money (if I had any extra) to see that episode on youtube! 😉 I’ve recently concluded that multitasking is bad for my budget. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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