1.2.14

Serial Thinking

There's an emerging mainstream "thinking about thinking"  Given that "Learning about Learning" has become more common place and even expected - the explicit focus on Study Skills for example - so the same interest is applying to thinking.    In short there's increasing recognition about how our brains can work better if we're more concious about it.  Welcome to one such example....Serial Thinking.

So move over multi-tasking and welcome to serial tasking.  So if multi-tasking is parallel working, then serial tasking is linear working.  Of course multi-taking is really just lots of micro serial tasking with lots of switching.


There seems to be some increasingly recognition that the busyness of constantly switching from one area of thinking to another has more explicit downsides.   So natural multi linguists who start counting in one language then switch to another will stumble on the switch.  Its the overhead of switching tasks.  The more the switching the more the overhead, and hence becoming less productive, and often when we need to be more productive.  I'm not sure we should be surprised at this.  It would appear that the word "priority" only took a plural addition "priorities" in the 1970's.

So it's about having the mental capacity, space and energy to both focus on the specific and to have the capacity to think more broadly too, and without carrying in the baggage of previous tasks or the anticipation of the next one. "It's not just about time but about bandwidth...when we are most busy we think we are becoming better users of time when we are really becoming worse managers of our bandwidth" (Sendhil Mullainathan, Prof of Economics at Harvard).  As ever it's a matter of balance in these things.


That can translate beyond the personal to the more corporate and cultural.   Easy to be busy on the wrong things or in the wrong way (wrong busy), rather than making the space to make sure that it's doing the right things in the right way (right and less busy).



Sources: Wired October 2013