Because, quite simply, we’re not multitaskers.
In the days when service stations actually serviced customers by pumping their gas, I worked at one while attending college. Just not for very long – neither service station nor college. Too much going on at the same time for my simple mind to handle.
My father was a premiere dental technician. I was to become a dentist, hence college. But three years of biology, physics, zoology, calculus and like-unfathomable subjects and I opted for the simple life of journalism, working for a weekly newspaper where my simplistic dream assignment was realized: take your camera and your notepad and come back in a week with a story.
That I could handle.
From covering the Miss Washington pageant to an ad of 12 ladies getting their hair done; from standing among the concrete pilings looking up to somehow capture the intricacies of the web-like I-405 Interchange being built, to the front-page-above-the-fold photograph of a dozen-or-more, candle-lit, carved-by-newspaper-staff pumpkins, it was a non-multitasker’s fantasy.
Not so the job at the service station.
Running between the pump – even though there was only one – and the counter to answer a Triple-A call (not baseball but rather roadside assistance); knowing which of the sizes, brands, and flavors of smokes and pop and juice, etc. were on sale – or not; making the customer a sandwich (no, he hadn’t asked for cheddar which was 99-cents more, and the bread was to have been white not wheat); and looking dumbfounded out the window to watch the driver at the pump take off even though I hadn’t yet removed the hose – it was just all so overwhelming.
Given my ineptness at doing all things all at once, you can imagine then my delight at having found some statistics that show “multitaskers experience IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana.”
You that pride yourself in multitasking put that in your pipe and smoke it.
I’ll get back to the marijuana matter in a moment. But first – and this is not multitasking, I’m simply checking incoming email while writing about rowing – there is breaking news out of Norwich, England that a friend just sent to me, although I don’t know why except that it certainly recommends this whole thing about doing only one thing at a time, or at the most two:
A couple of college (who else?) students “theorize that their idea could ‘save enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool 26 times,’” not to mention “it’s also a pragmatic timesaver.”
And as if you needed more reasons to un-hoard your mind not to mention unclutter your soul – say by taking up rowing – researchers at Stanford University further found that “multitaskers” – and for that matter marijuana users – “performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information.”
Like peeing in the shower.
All of which explains why we row.
You just follow the guy in front of you.
Don’t ask questions as you won’t have enough time – or oxygen – to do so there being but a second or two between strokes. Keep your head in the boat as in don’t be looking at the scenery. Focus. Get your blade out cleanly so as not to catch a crab which stuck oar in the water at best – but still not good – can halt the run of the boat and at worst literally catapult you into the water, both disasters avoided by – speaking of simplify – a simple, and eventually automatic and thus mindless, flip of the wrists rotating the handle.
I can handle that.
It’s why we row.