An interesting study from Stanford this week that challenges the idea that we are adept multitaskers and can effectively deal with multiple concurrent tasks.
According to the research, we’re really lousy at multitasking, and the idea that multitasking somehow makes us more efficient or effective at dealing with tasks is wrong.
I find the study results very much in line with what I have been feeling lately with regard to my own productivity. I thought my unproductive feelings were a result of age and slowing down, or being a 42 year old parent with a 5 and 2 year old and finding the time to be able to concentrate on a single task for long periods of time at home virtually impossible. Both of these are probably true to some extent. But lately I have been asking myself questions like how efficient am I, what do I produce, and is it really the best work that I can do? I find that by trying to do too many things at once, I actually accomplish very little and, in some cases, completely miss out on important tasks. I am beginning to question many of the habits and methods I have picked up over the years to deal with multiple streams of information and how I juggle multiple tasks and asking myself is this really the best way I work?
I know it is a common problem many of us who work in information based careers struggle with, but for me the change is that I am now starting to recognize that it might actually be a problem. Whereas before I thought multitasking was an essential skill I needed to thrive in a digital world, I am now beginning to rethink that and wonder if the opposite might actually true.