Multitasking - everyone is doing it and many think they are actually being more efficient in this manner. I wish to challenge that assumption.
Sure, if you are doing a mindless task, doing something else at the same time isn't too much of an interruption. You can wash the floor and talk on the phone. You can watch TV and text your friends - or twitter them if you choose.
BUT, if your mind is engaged in problem-solving or creativity, an interruption to think about something else actually sets you back. You need to take a few minutes to re-collect your thoughts to get back to what you were doing.
Let me tell you a story: I was attending a meeting of NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors) and the panel, consisting mostly of attorneys was having a very serious and important discussion. Most of us were taking notes.
There was a young man repeatedly distracted by his phone. It was on vibrate and he would walk out of the room to take the call, so he wasn't disturbing others. I noticed because I tend to notice most things going on around me (a strength and an affliction.) During a break, I teased him about it and asked how he could possibly pay attention to the talk when he was taken away so often by the phone. He admitted that it was quite difficult and that he was missing much of the information being conveyed by the panel.
"Why don't you shut your phone, or ignore it?" I asked. He replied, "I can't, the calls are all from my boss." "Who asked you to come to this lecture?" I asked. He replied, "My boss."
How dumb is that?
Labels: creativity problem-solving, multi-tasking