Hi, my name is Tom and I am a multitasker.
I received a tweet yesterday directing me to a blog that rocked my world. It was written by a man named Peter Bregman entitled “How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking.”
No excuses, I am guilty. Like so many, I love technology and all it can do to make our lives easier. But technology enables us like never before to multitask and that can have harmful effects on our lives. The dark side is that it is so easy to sacrifice productivity, peace of mind and yes even relationships on the altar of multitasking. And ironically those are the very things we are hoping to gain by doing it.
Bregman cites recent studies that have indicated that those who multitask suffer negative effects. Rather than increasing productivity, it can actually cause it to drop by as much as 40%. One study found that multitasking creates higher levels of stress, frustration and workload pressure.
A study done for Hewlitt Packard found that being distracted from work tasks by continually checking email and phone messages experienced a 10 point drop in IQ. Their conclusion – those who were continually interrupting work flow to answer email and texts not only lost mental sharpness but it was equivalent to losing a nights sleep.
Basically the summation of research is this – the more we multitask the less competent we become.
That is sobering. This idea is not new to me. I have actually been experimenting recently in restricting myself to check for incoming emails at scheduled times when that can become my only focus. That way it allows concentration on other more important tasks at hand with no interruptions. But I’ll admit I have not done well at sustaining that good intention. Why is it I can be content with going to my snail mail box only once a day but must be checking email, tweets, Facebook etc. frequently throughout the day.
I have also been trying to restrain myself from continually checking my smartphone for messages. Recently I have chosen not to take it into a meeting with me so I won’t be tempted. When I’ve done that it has been freeing and has helped me bring greater concentration to the task at hand. But I need a greater resolve to do that as well.
Bregman’s article is a great challenge to me to take seriously these feeble attempts and actually turn to God and ask for His help in getting my multitasking addiction under control.
How are you doing in resisting the multitasking temptation? What lessons have you learned that can help me?
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