Is Multitasking a good thing?
The Stanford Report published on the 24th August 2009 is very interesting reading.
The experiment was conducted to find out how multitaskers were performing so that we could all learn from them and benefit from their gift or skills. We live in a time of constant information and as a result can find ourselves trying to accomplish different things whilst taking in information from different sources. Were multitaskers processing information differently and sifting things better than the rest of us? Were they using their brains better to store details?
The results were opposite to those expected when the research was conducted. This was a shock at first but when they drilled down into the causes it became obvious that those who were training themselves to take in multi sources of information at the same time were in fact loosing out and under performing as a result. Multitaskers were finding it difficult to ignore certain irrelevant details and concentrate on what was required of them in the study. Being unable to filter out what is not relevant to your current goal could result in loosing ground to those who can stay focused. ‘They are suckers for irrelevancy’ said communication Professor Clifford Nass, ‘everything distracts them’.
I can learn a good lesson from this myself and apply it to my life. It is easy to have the TV on or emails open when working on something. I remember myself recently planning a presentation with Facebook open and achieving very little as a result in the 20 minutes involved. I would have done far better with 15 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of recreation rather than combining the two.
With us living in the information age it would be easy to remember this as the barrage of information is only going one way.
I will no longer be kidding myself that I am a great multitasker and I see the results immediately.