The Myth of Multitasking Revisited

2 thoughts on “The Myth of Multitasking Revisited”

  1. Luis, of course it’s much more complicated than that. I don’t believe that “multitasking” as a word or a construct is something that people should not do… or should do. Actually, I think there are different forms of multitasking. Some styles of doing it are more harmful, while others are helpful.

    For example, we all know the scenario in which we call upon someone in a meeting to answer a question, only to find that they have not been paying attention, and so the whole question needs to be repeated. Yes, I agree that when someone needs to be paying attention, that their attention (as you know I’ve argued in the past) is a limited resource which cannot be successfully divided between two tasks when both tasks demand results at the same time. In other words, when you need someone to do something, if they are doing something else, it’s a no no.

    However, demands on productivity require workers to economize every minute of their daily allotment of attention. It is no longer viable to expect that people dedicate 100% attention to a meeting merely because the meeting was scheduled for the block of time. Too often, attendees are NOT required for each discussion in the meeting. Their attendance is often because they need to be “on-call” during the meeting to engage in discussions, on a spare-of-the-moment basis, should they be needed. Therefore, their attention is free to be invested elsewhere. And so, they start taking care of other things. Some people would call this “multitasking.”

    I argue that this latter form of multitasking is perfectly legitimate and helpful.

    So, what is a poor leader supposed to do when their meeting attendees are not paying attention and questions have to be repeated? ANSWER: Be acutely aware, respectful, and gracious about the fact that people may be required wander away from the discussion. Think ahead before asking a question… Think about who you will need to answer the question… realize that you might not have that person’s attention… give them a verbal prompts… declare who the question is for before asking the question… pause for a moment before asking the question… GRAB the person’s attention by using their name before asking the question.

    I’ve been practicing this for the past several years with fantastic success.

  2. I think as well that the pomodoro technique works pretty good. I use it ti get my work done and it works. I am not so keen on working on several tasks at the same time I just end up doing nothin and wasting time.

    I haven’t arrived yet to the extreme of controlling how much time I sound on the social sites but I guess it might be usefull.

    Nice post.

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