Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, August 22, 2010

Here in Britain one of the current subjects of discussion is a modern trend towards multi-tasking such as watching television and working online.  I've always done it and find I work better that way with the exception that I cannot multi-task and listen to classical music because I lose myself in it.

My concentration is unusually deep.  I work best by concentrating in snatches.  If the problem is straightforward like this blof posts then my concentration switches off an on quickly.  I'll plan a few words then switch off.  My mind can then do other things while my fingers catch up.  At the moment I am listening to a 3 CD collection of Status Quo tracks.  It's ideal.  It's not demanding music but while my fingers are engaged there is something for keep my brain interested.  In fact I find it hard to concentrate in a library because there is nothing to keep my mind busy between the bursts of concentration.

In terms of television, trashy is best.  Something like Eastenders or maybe Dannii Minogue Style Queen - I quite enjpy them but they are hardly fully absorbing.  If there is something I really want to watch like the final of Celebrity Masterchef, I'll put the computer to one side.

As problems get more advanced my concentration bursts become longer up to about 15 minutes.  During that time I'll take in very little of external events and media.  However, then I'll need gaps of the same sort of size in between when I am resting and perhaps listening to music and typing material which doesn't require deep thought.  The exception is exams when I need to concentrate much longer continuously.  It's why I dislike exams: it doesm't suit me.  I'll still usually take a 5 minute break every hour or so and just sit and relax.  I don't fully concentrate for an hour though.  I still surface every 5 to 10 minutes, I just usually multi-task on the exam itself so my surface attention can be thinkiing ahead, planning time schedules, keeping  track of likely marks etc.

I've been working recently on displaying Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs online for a couple of new sites I am working one - an Ancient Egypt magazine in partnership with Andie Byrnes and the World of Hieroglphs, my very latest site dedicated to Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.  Both are still under construction.  For the magazine, Andie wanted a way to display hieroglyphs online and I got very into it and wrote a parser for something called the Manuel de Codage.  So into it that I decided to start the World of Hieroglyphs as well which will be the home of my new parser ..,. and another, much simpler one, I wrote yesterday morning.  Analysing the topology of Manuel de Codage and desiging the algorithm for the main parser, called Glypheer,  was the most complex thing I have done in over 25 years.  While concentrating on aspects of that, my concentration was going deep for periods of 30 - 45 minutes at a time.  That really is unusal for me. 

I have a love-hate relationship with things that require parrticularly deep concemtration.  They can be very rewarding but I guess it's like the sport of deep diving.  Before a dive you need to pre-breathe and I find the same with concentration.

Right, I'm about to take a break now. The Waaderer should be about to start soon and I love that so I'll listen and head bang to it!

(PS I think I'll schedule this post for tonight.)


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