Try this. Take a pencil in each hand and with your left hand draw a circle while simultaneously drawing a square with your right. Or this; silently begin reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet while singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the same time.
When we were kids growing up my older brother was a pretty good juggler, at least to me he was. He could keep three balls going at one time and never miss a beat, or two balls with one hand, which was amazing to me. He tried to teach me how to do it, and even though I would go off and practice on my own, I just never got the hang of it. Either I was not coordinated enough or couldn’t concentrate enough, or maybe a little of both. Whatever the reason too many balls in the air throw me off, if you know what I mean.
How about you, have you tried the two-handed drawing exercise above, or reading and singing at the same time? Even if you managed to do them, how did they turn out? Did the circle and square turn out as well as if you had drawn one at a time with your dominant hand, or were you able to concentrate on Shakespeare while singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”?
If you ask me I think the whole idea of multitasking is a bunch of nonsense. Oh, no doubt there are people who seemingly manage a lot of tasks or projects at the same time. I even have some limited ability to do that myself. But I don’t think it’s really multitasking; rather it is nothing more than performing one task at a time in somewhat rapid succession. Otherwise, can you imagine the results? Everything would look just like those circles and squares we tried to draw simultaneously with both hands.
I think if I were to ask my brother what the trick is to being able to juggle; my guess is he would say it has something to do with focusing on one ball at a time – rapidly. Maybe his mind does work quicker than mine, or he is better coordinated. But I’ll bet he would also say he has succeeded in life so far the same way the rest of us have, by focusing on one task at a time. Let us take care that all this technology we have today, or the world’s infatuation with multitasking, not distract us from this simple fact of life.