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08-28-09, 11:05 PM #1
Envious of multitaskers? A new study says you shouldn't be
Envious of multitaskers? A new study says you shouldn't be - FierceCIO
August 28, 2009 — 11:54am ET
By Paul Mah
Have you ever looked at some of your colleagues and felt envious of how they appeared to seamlessly juggle phone calls, attend to multiple flashing instant messaging windows, reply to an endless stream of e-mails, and still manage to grab a cup of coffee from the pantry - punching out some text messages en route too.
The truth is that all of us multitask from time-to-time. I mean, have you ever tried to read the papers while having breakfast, or post a quick tweet online when put on hold on the phone? Or how about singing in the shower? Well, that's multitasking for you.
Still, some people seem to do it so much better, or seem to be able to juggle many more tasks than most. This category of folks would be considered "heavy multitaskers," and if the conclusion of a new study at Stanford is to be believed, you probably shouldn't feel so inadequate compared to them.
The study found that heavy multitaskers underperformed the light multitaskers in a number of assigned tasks. Basically, the heavy multitaskers could not seem to focus properly on instructions that were given, because they appeared to draw from all the information presented to them, including the non-essential inputs. This overload of unimportant information distracted them from the actual tasks they needed to do, and they were in fact doing worse as they went along.
At the moment, the jury is still out about whether the "chronic" multitaskers are born with this inability to concentrate, or if they simply impair their cognitive ability by trying to multitask so heavily. What the researchers are clear about though, is that the "minds of the multitaskers are not working as well as they should."
How do you protect yourself from being overwhelmed by multiple distractions in the office? - Paul Mah
Read more: Envious of multitaskers? A new study says you shouldn't be - FierceCIO
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08-28-09, 11:14 PM #2
Thats very interesting, Chuck. I just read a study that said that we don't really multi-task....we just move from issue to issue very fast. The best of us seem to do this so smoothly that it just appears that multi-tasking is taking place. It looks like people who can do this don't really think any faster than others but that they can compartmentilize an issue so effectively that they can move from one to the other like lightening. Not sure how the two studies go together but both are interesting.
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