I just endured an hour-long conference call with a dozen or so people. In a situation like that, keeping the mind limber and engaged (but not too engaged for sanity’s sake) without making too much noise or tuning out completely is an essential skill. Â I find that the right secondary activity is the key to a happy phone conference. Getting out a hammer and hanging pictures on the wall requires just the right amount of mental attention but is too noisy. Painting the wall works well if the wall needs painting. (Mine doesn’t.) Reading email is a bit dangerous though because it requires too much attention and can lead to embarrassing, “Could you repeat the question?” scenarios if I get too sucked into my sister’s latest drama. (The same goes for chat, which is also too noisy because of the frenetic typing.) Â So what is the perfect mind-soothing activity?
A casual game. I like to find a bit of light entertainment to enjoy as I listen along. (And offer my own jewels of wisdom.) I played Dr. Wise: Medical Mysteries (the free trial at that link is just long enough for a conference call),Â which is a hidden object game that seems to be based on the Fox showÂ House. (I love House.)
I play one member of a team of doctors helping to diagnose a curious ailment in a patient. This involves the usual sort of detective work they do on House but that no real doctor would ever do: Going into the patient’s home to find clues, rummaging through kitchens, medicine cabinets, under the sink, and behind the art on the walls. Of course, it’s at that point that it becomes a matching game: I have to find the objects listed and click on them to collect them all, learn something that will help me diagnose, and move on to the next level. The guy I work for is rude, bad tempered, and brilliant. The people I work with are impossibly hot (or about as impossibly hot as cartoon images get – okay not as hot as Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit but you get the idea.) So it’s just like House.
It’s a relaxing form of mindless fun, perfect for passing the time while people on the other end of the phone talk. But not so engaging that I won’t remember what got said on the phone. (Of course I turn off the sound on my computer so everyone on the call won’t hear the diagnosis.)