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The Truth About Multi-tasking

Many managers are under the impression that multi-tasking allows people to get more done. Many workers, especially younger ones, also feel this way; they text to one person during a conversation with another person.

One of the problems with multi-tasking is the brain is not a parallel processing machine. It performs cognitive tasks serially. And there is switching time involved. During that switching period, the parts of the brain that are being unassigned from one task and reassigned to another aren’t in use. This blank time is called a ‘brain brownout.”

You actually go blind for a measurable time when switching your attention from texting to driving or vice-versa. It’s in milliseconds, but it still matters. And that doesn’t count the loss of “looking out the windshield” time. If something happens, you are temporarily incapable of reacting.

Now apply this “brain outage” problem to daily tasks. Can any of them actually be done well?

Plus you’ve got a series of downtimes with the necessary restarting and refocusing and reorienting and remembering (versus blocks of uninterrupted time). With all this downtime, work actually takes significantly longer. People compensate by working less well, and you can verify this for yourself by comparing focused work to multi-tasked work.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection