Multi-tasking is bad, this is my opinion.
Nevertheless, "bild der wissenschaft" published a nice article about multi-tasking titled "The myth of multi-tasking" in May 2008 with some interesting and surprising findings ( and I added a few of my own additions here ):
- The term multi-tasking comes from computer science and describes how an operating system performs "multi-tasking" by actually switching quickly between tasks to make it look like it would perform these tasks simultaneously.
- Our brain can sense multiple sources simultaneously but can act only on one task at a time. Thus multi-tasking of a brain works the same way as in a computer operating system: through frequent switching. Switching creates extra effort, that’s why I hold to my opinion: multi-tasking is bad. At the end activities take longer and much non-value-add time had to be invested to simply swap thoughts in and our from active parts of your brain. And this swapping is a source of many errors.
- When doing multi-tasking the productivity of our brain is decreased by around 40 %.
"MULTITASKING" by akbar Simonse from Den Haag, The Netherlands
- It is not scientifically proven that women are better in multi-tasking than men, even 80% of people asked during a survey would think so and some studies seems to indicate this. It is as strenuous for women as it is for men. Keeping multiple items under control like the three kids in the living room, the pot with soup on the stove and the phone call with a friend is simply a matter of training, men could learn that as well. As long as the kids and the pot are fine and don’t require any action the situation is under control, but as soon as the woman or man would have to act on multiple events multi-tasking would be required for the price of reduced productivity and stress. The best example I always like to mention: watch people trying to drive a car and having a phone call at the same time and you know what is meant here.
- There are people who actually like that frequent switching and short periods of time to focus on one activity. These are typically people who can not focus on one thing for a longer period of time.
- Companies should try everything to avoid multi-tasking for their work force. This would reduce the rate of errors, stress and the risk of employees to become sick ( of that or because of that ).
- One hint here: check your e-mails only every two hours.