Yahoo! posted a clever piece today called "Multitasking Will Make Your Brain Explode". In the article, Christopher Null sites a New York Times study that seems to show that multitasking actually hinders productivity.
think that most of us know this but probably ignore its truth and
multitask anyway. We do this for so many reasons- mainly because we
can. Just the other night, I'm holding my 3 month old in one arm and
checking email with my free hand. The hard facts still remain: just
because we can doesn't mean that it's effective.
There are two forms of multitasking: clear-multiple activity and crossed-multiple activity.
activity is when we do something physical or mindless and stimulate the
brain while we are doing it. An example would be listening to a book on
tape while going for a run. Your mind is cleared to engage in multiple
actions at one time. This form of multitasking is cool in my book. I'm
not really a phone guy so I tend to make my calls when I'm on the road
or doing some chore around the house- it works for me.
other kind of multitasking that gets us into trouble: crossed-multiple
activity is when we are trying to pay attention to two things
simultaneously. Ever work on your computer AND talk with someone on the
phone? Doesn't work too well. Or, ever try to hold a conversation with
a person who pops bye AND still work at your desk? Same result.
has a lot to say about doing one thing at a time: it promotes
clear-multiple activity and at other times just plain clear or as David Allen likes to call it, a mind like water.
Here are some fantastic resources for multitasking correctly and avoiding the crossed-multiple style that I spoke of earlier:
- Jack on multitasking and the Covey system
- Brazen Careerist talks about the new rules of multitasking
- Rob Neville talks about the evils of multitasking
- Relentless Productivity has a wonderful piece about his GTD journey beyond multitasking