Stop the Multitasking Madness

Published Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:03 AM

 

Hold a conference call.

Juggle Much?

Stop the Madness!

 

Respond to an email.

 

Add a contact in Outlook.

 

Sign an expense voucher.

 

Text a co-worker.

 

..... At the same time.

 

No. You are not an octopus. You are a typical multitasker at work.

Despite the demands of our 24-7-365 culture, the latest research shows that the typical human brain is not wired for multitasking. That is why multitaskers do not perform as well as others on core abilities like memory, task completion and switching from one task to another. Multitasking also has the negative physical effect of prompting the release of stress hormones and adrenaline. So, when we multitask, we are more prone to stress and anger. We are also more easily distracted.

The public has become attuned to the perils of this distractibility courtesy of Oprah Winfrey's No Phone Zone project  In an April 24, 2010  New York Times Op-Ed piece, Ms. Winfrey cites the chilling statistic that at least 6,000 people were killed by drivers distracted by cellphones in 2008. She goes on to state: "So many issues that we have to deal with seem beyond our control: natural disasters, child predators, traffic jams. Over the years, I've done shows on just about all of them. But this is a real problem we can do something about and get immediate results. All we have to do is hang up or switch off."

While we are switching off in the car, we should also consider the benefits of curbing our multitasking habit at work. Think about the last time you focused on a single task or project for an extended time. Or, try to remember your last uninterrupted conversation with a co-worker. If you are like many of us, you might not have any recent memories to cull.

That is why we are challenging members of our Beyond Folders Community to stop the multitasking madness. For at least one week, commit to focusing on a single work task, project or conversation for at least one hour each day. Close the door, hang a do not disturb sign or cordon off the cubicle - anything that clearly communicates to your co-workers that you are not to be bothered. We encourage you to keep a log or journal of your activities and note how you feel as you go.

After you complete your one-week challenge, we invite you to share your experience with us here, on our blog or at the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers

 

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Comments

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# electronic cig said on Monday, June 07, 2010 8:41 AM

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# max h. kuykendall said on Monday, June 28, 2010 5:33 PM

Wow,"I could have had a V-8"! This truth is so basic and obvious that it should not have been necessary to verbalize. As it has been said, "It goes without saying"; however, this is how crazy our lives have become in this info overloaded world.

My work puts me behind the wheel a significant portion of every day. There is not a day that goes by that my life is not endangered by multi-taskers specifically cell phone user. It averages 2-3 time daily that I am forced to the edge of my lane by folks chatting, texting or keying in a number.

It is my opinion that most of us know that this is unsafe, but we must function in a competitive work environment, and this contributes to "getting that call" even if you're moving 65 MPH just 24" away from another vehicle.

Doing what is right (safe) requires discipline, and contrary to contemporary thinking, it comes at a price. How often we sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent, or suposed urgent. We need to be able to discern the difference.

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# Chris said on Saturday, March 17, 2012 4:39 AM

The film also takes place within two lreyas of the mind in addition to what's actually happening in reality, which makes the film feel like a less complicated version of Inception.

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