Sharon C. Cooper

Just thinking…

Aha! Shower Power

I was just thinking…

Well, actually I was just thinking that I do my best thinking in the shower. After spending hours working on a scene for a future book, my brain stopped cooperating. I tried everything to get my creative juices flowing  – eating chocolate, playing a couple of hands of FreeCell on the computer, and I even did forty-five minutes of step aerobics  – nothing worked. So I decided to take a shower and had planned to work on something else afterwards. And as usual, during my shower the scene I’d been working on became crystal clear, and the opening for the next scene materialized!

That whole shower episode is not out of the norm (for me), it seems I do my best thinking…in the shower. It’s amazing the things I come up with! How to work less and make more; how to re-organize the master closet without spending more money at my favorite store (The Container Store), and I came up with an idea of how to drop a few pounds before my vacation. Just last week while fine-tuning ideas for my next book series (The Jenkins Family), it was a shower that jump-started my muse and helped me complete the five-book series ideas. Go figure.

…if only I could figure out how to write in the shower without my paper getting soggy, or my laptop becoming water logged…

But what about you? When do your bright ideas or solutions pop into your head?

July 31, 2012 Posted by | Just Thinking, Writing | , , , | 6 Comments

Multi-tasking is a Myth, Or So I’ve Been Told

For years I’ve prided myself on being able to get a lot done in minimum time. I even took on the Army’s old recruiting slogan – “we do more things before 8 a.m. than most people do all day.” That was me, getting an early start to my day to see how much I could get done before 8 a.m. I’ve always considered myself the ultimate multi-tasker, but now I’m wondering if my version of multi-tasking has really been as productive as I’ve thought. 

I’ve often heard people say – multi-tasking is a myth. In my mind, I wondered how that was possible since I typically take care of several tasks at the same time. If having a load of clothes washing, and a pot of brown rice cooking on the stove while I work on one of my writing assignments is not multi-tasking, then what is? I decided to do some research.

According to neuroscientist, Earl Miller, humans can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, but they can “shift their focus from one thing to the next with astonishing speed.” We may think we’re paying attention to everything we have going on around us, but we’re not. He says that often times, “similar tasks compete to use the same part of the brain.” One example I liked: typing an email while talking on the telephone.  This is almost impossible to do effectively – I’ve tried it. “They both involve communicating via speech or the written word, and so there’s a lot of conflict between the two of them.”

It turns out, most of the tasks I do simultaneously are considered “background tasking” according to business coach, Dave Crenshaw. This is when you’re “doing two or more tasks, with only one of them requiring mental effort” like my example above. It’s suggested that instead of trying to do several things at once, give your complete focus to one task at a time.  That’s a nice idea…but will I be able to accomplish as much? Hmm…I’m not sure.

Surepayroll did a study and found that “despite the widespread acceptance of multi-tasking, one in four small business owners report that multi-tasking in some way hinders their working ability. Multi-tasking skeptics cited everything from decreased quality in work, tasks taking longer than in the past and becoming burned out more quickly.”

Now I’m curious. I’m thinking about trying to limit my version of multi-tasking and see how many tasks I can scratch off my daily to-do-list. I have no doubt that this will be super hard for me, especially since I’ve mirrored the Army’s old slogan regarding all I can get done before 8 a.m., for well over 20 years. I also can’t imagine it being as much fun, but we’ll see.

What are your thoughts on multi-tasking?

December 7, 2011 Posted by | Business, Just Thinking, Multi-tasking | | 6 Comments