The Lost Art of Focus: Multi-tasking vs. Mono-tasking
October 12, 2009 by Jason Montero
Further research continues to indicate that focusing on more than one task at a time actually decreases productivity and may jeopardize the fundamental quality of our work and communication. But this data seems to contradict what many people hold as the vision of a fully engaged and adapted 21st century worker.
The people who engage in media “multitasking” are those least able to do so well, according to researchers. This recent BBC article examines the results of a study done at Stanford University.
And this NPR radio segment also highlights some enlightening research into multi-tasking.
But in today’s workplace, and even just in our day to day lives in the information age, a certain amount of multi-tasking is unavoidable. So it seems the skill to develop is knowing when, where, and what to multi-task. Ali Hale weighs in with what I feel is a reasonable and well thought out opinion in her article ‘Multi-Tasking vs. Mono-Tasking’:
So how do you know when you should “multi-task” and when you should “mono-task”? And how do you manage to do the latter? Some things lend themselves brilliantly to multi-tasking. These tend to be activities which are purely physical, or which by their nature take a set amount of time to complete – however well you focus.
All of this has given me food for thought – as I am a person who is prone to multi-tasking and have convinced myself that I am pretty good at the juggling routine. In fact, I half-jokingly said to my brother just the other day, ‘I’ve got to focus, no more multi-tasking, from now on I’m only going to do two or three things at a time.’
So, here’s a little eye-opening challenge if you feel the same way: try this online game called MULTITASK and see if it might start to change your opinion.