Multi tasking = #Fail?

“When you are walking, walk. When you are sitting, sit.” – Buddha

We all know not to drink and drive. Correction: Most of us know not to drink and drive. What would your answers be when posed with the question would you drink and write? Perhaps writing a love letter is different, but when it comes to writing an important work email or working on a project, the answer should obviously be a no. There is strong researched evidence that suggests that what most of us do in the workplace – Multitasking- can reduce your performance in the workplace to that of a drunk.

A molecular biologist compares a person driving and texting to a person in the office who is simultaneously checking emails, writing up a document, and surfing the web. He claims they are essentially doing the exact same thing. He also claims that the brain is not made to multi task, and it just doesn’t exist, as much as it is highly praised when someone claims they actually can multi task. He gives another example: You may have noticed that when you are working on something, and have music in the background, you finish work and realize the CD is finished but you can’t recall any of the songs you heard.

Another business coach says there is no such thing as multi tasking, but rather refers to it as task switching, where we are simply performing one task that has all our attention, while being mindless about another. Other research by him shows that people who are interrupted and have to keep switching their attention back and forth between things, take 50% more time to accomplish a task, and subsequently make the same amount of errors. An everyday life example of this: Sitting at a restaurant for lunch with a friend, you’re in deep conversation, and then you get interrupted by the waiter to take your orders. After he leaves, how many times have you completely forgotten what you were talking about? Not only do interruptions cause amnesia, claims this researcher, but they also cause delays due to the fact that the brain has to go through a four step neuron switch thing (too scientific to get into in this post).

So, given the above examples and research studies, what are your views on multi tasking in life and in the workplace?

How does multi tasking come into play if your work is in the digital social media sector where interruptions are a common thing?

What effects do you see when you try to do several things at the same time, rather than focusing on one thing at a time?

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