The latest research on multitasking shows that it reduces productivity, rather than increases it. David Meyer, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Evans, Ph.D., have determined that for all types of tasks, people lose time when they switch from one task to another. “People in a work setting,” says Meyer, “who are banging away on word processors at the same time they have to answer phones and talk to their coworkers and bosses—they’re doing switches all the time. Not being able to concentrate for, say, 10 to 15 minutes at a time is costing the company as much as 20 to 40 percent in terms of personal efficiency.”
When we become used to multitasking, we train our brains to have shorter attention spans. It takes focus for data to be stored in our long-term memories. When we multitask, we may on the surface appear to be doing many things productively—but if we don’t remember any of them, what have we gained? This vicious cycle can only be interrupted by focused activity on a single issue at a time. Quiet your pager, it’s time to have a discussion with your staff!
The faster paradox
The faster paradox is this: We must move slower to go faster. In order to optimize our brainpower, we need to remember to rest, reflect, recharge and get ourselves into the place where thoughts flow freely.
What can you delegate? What can you let your technology remember for you? What think time can you carve out on a regular basis? How can you use the faster paradox to your advantage?
Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Mind, by Nancy Kline
Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything, by James Gleick