Episode 39: Issues with Multitasking

When we think we’re multitasking we’re actually multiswitching. That is what the brain is very good at doing - quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we’re being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we’re simply giving ourselves extra work.
— Michael Harris
We are the generation capable of doing many things at once, without enjoying any of them.
— Dinesh Kumar Biran
How often have you heard people brag about what great multi-taskers they are? Perhaps you’ve made the same boast yourself. You might even have heard that members of “Gen Y” are natural multi-taskers, having lived their whole lives constantly switching their attention from texting to IMing to Facebooking to watching TV— all supposedly without missing a beat. We even see training classes designed to teach managers how best to multi-task their Gen Y staff, the implication being that asking someone to focus on a single task through to completion has now become ridiculously old-fashioned for, if not downright heretical to, the new world order.

Don’t believe it.
— Michael Hannan

This week we wanted to consider something all of us do in this day and age: multitasking. Several studies and experts conclude that it has detrimental effects on both our mental processing abilities and our productive potential. Certainly it does not originate from one source in particular and we address several responses to the issue which permeates various aspects of our lives.