Wednesday, April 09, 2003

How can it be so hard for you to do those everyday tasks that everybody else manages to get done? What HAVE you been doing all day?

It’s kind of like this:

Some people know the alphabet backwards and forwards, and if they have something to file, they know that K comes after J and before L.  They can do that type of work quickly.  In order for me to remember that K comes after J and before L, I have to hum the alphabet song.  Therefore, I would not make a good secretary, unless I could find an employer who is fond of the alphabet song.  It takes me longer to file things. It also takes me longer to look up anything that is listed in alphabetical order, like a name in the phone book or a word in the dictionary.  I just keep humming that alphabet song.  A lot of everyday tasks just take me longer, because they are about as easy for me to do as filing is for someone who doesn't automatically know how the letters are arranged in the alphabet.

Now add interruptions.  I am halfway through the alphabet song and someone interrupts me.  NOW how much longer will it take to do the filing?

This brings me to the issue of WORKING MEMORY.  It’s what allows other people to continue to attend to something from one moment to the next.  Apparently, other people can be unloading the dishwasher, stop to answer the phone, and then go back to unloading the dishwasher!  Me, I unload a little of the top rack, then get bored and unload a little of the bottom rack.  If I get interrupted, that may be the end of that.  To make things worse, I interrupt myself.

I walk past the laundry area and see a shirt that is only partly folded.  While I was folding that shirt, I must have thought of something else that needed to be done, and unless I want to forget, I have to do everything (or write it down) the second I think of it.  There sits that shirt.

OK, so I’m supposed to be cleaning the house and I find myself doing something completely unrelated to cleaning the house!  How did that happen?  I had a thought, and I have to do everything (or write it down) the second I think of it, or it will be gone forever.  In this case, I decided not to write it down.  So what have I been doing all day? Apparently, saving myself the trouble of writing things down.  I sure am glad I didn’t waste any paper today.



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