I was speaking with my boss today and he was recounting to me some neuroscience and the study of 'multitasking'. I'll save you from all the hurdy gurdy, the up-shot of the studies is that multi-tasking is a very inefficient method of completing work, or tasks, or in my field of interest, learning about animation.We were talking in the context of learning basic practical skills. When a person is trying to learn something and their focus is interrupted (they come out of 'the zone'), then it can take up to 15 to 20 minutes to get back into the zone again. When in the zone, that is when someone is focussed on a task (such as learning something by doing something), the information is transferred to areas of the brain associated with long term memory.When someone is constantly distracted from a single task and dealing with other tasks, such as answering emails, watching animations while trying to animate, answering phone calls, responding to conversation, then the brain is working differently and constantly switching between different areas. The tasks and what is learnt goes into short term memory to cope and respond to short term inputs and outputs. The people most efficient at multi-tasking (there may be some gender links here) are those with the most efficient and fastest brain switches. Some may describe them as being 'quick witted'.Multi-tasking for long periods when compared to focussing on one task burns up a lot of energy and brain chemicals causing fatigue and sometimes headaches, lethargy, tiredness.And even though a person may have completed a task (e.g. watching a video tutorial)things don't get properly learnt, that being, retained in the long term memory.So, in terms of learning animation, or just completing an animation task (that you learn from), neuroscience studies suggest it is best to try and do it in a focussed way without distractions.I know Ian used to watch us (students) surface from the daze of animating at the light boxes, or in Maya, times when the teaching studio was wrapped in a blanket of industrious quiet, and say, "you've been IN THE ZONE" or "Well done everyone, I could feel lots of good work being done today."It's fine turn off the modem, turn off the phone and tell people to go away because you are "in the zone". It might make you into a better animator, if you believe neuroscientists.
To link it together with Ian's post here is another quote:"Multitasking is the art of distracting yourself from two things you’d rather not be doing by doing them simultaneously." Merlin Mann
That's some very chewy food for thought. I'm just emerging from a very inefficient few days of work, and Ian and Frank's quotes have really struck a chord. An uncomfortable, guilt-inducing chord.Might turn the phone off tomorrow!
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