Surveys show that most of us believe we can multitask, but brain studies indicate that we really can't. What we can do is switch from one task to another and back again, quite rapidly if necessary, but it's still just one task at a time.
This is exactly how modern computers work. When one task is on hold waiting for something, like retrieving data from disk, (In computerese getting data back from a disk takes a looong time.) the whole shebang, memory stacks, registers, and app, are moved out to a temporary holding space while another shebang is moved into the processor for crunching, maximizing those CPU cycles. It's called context switching.
Thankfully that phase passed, and in more recent years I would work on a report while monitoring data center environmental conditions while listening to one of my people explain why they can't work with Ed anymore, or even more recently, just yesterday as a matter of fact, work on a puzzle and think about women. (Oh Crap. But in my defense, the puzzle is titled Gentleman's Club!)
It's been over six years since I retired from the frenetic pace of corporate management in the high tech world, but yet I still have to forcibly remind myself daily that I don't have to overheat my brain like that anymore, that it's OK to Zen, to just be, to sit on the bench for a few quiet moments and savor a mid-morning fruit-cup while watching the pond, without feeling guilty about it.
But I have to admit, all that time and I'm still crap at it.
Just now I sat on that bench, spooning little explosions of cool, tart grapefruit into my mouth, enjoying the reflective surface of the pond ringed by the wispy green-gold of a meadow full of the spindly-tall plants with tiny flowers that sprang up on the back of generous September rains - - - while thinking about which of next week's monthly chores to tackle first, while composing the text of this very post in my head, while thinking about women, while - - -
I sure do wish I could find that damn off switch!