How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking - Peter Bregman - Harvard Business Review
For those of you in Houston during the PMI meetings in March, please join me for my presentation on "Multitasking - A True Path to Career Advancement?" I will be presenting during the pre-meeting. The article here covers a lot of the same material, but my presentation will cover tactics and techniques, as opposed to just a list of benefits.
The truth is, that multitasking is a scary fallacy. Human beings CANNOT Multitask, as much as my wife will argue differently. What we are really doing is rapid task switching (and believe it or not, woman are usually better at it then men). We only perceive that we are doing 2 things at once.
My generation and younger were raised on distraction. TV, video games, computers, cell phones... all of them vying for attention. Today it is only worse. Think about it: Laptops, netbooks, tablets, GPS, Instant Messenger, cell phones, smart phones, MP3 Players, Ipods, Ipads, Iphones, and ALL OF THEM SCREAMING FOR YOUR ATTENTION. Little wonder we feel pulled in a hundred different directions most days.
So what's the worst that can happen? After all, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? PRACTICE! Here's the problem, you don't get better at getting things done with practice of multitasking. Instead, you get better at being distracted, you loose focus!
I'll give one example that isn't in the article. I think it is safe to say we all would agree that using your phone in the car while driving is multitasking. Car and Driver in 2009 ran a test. They had an editor run a course at 70 mph, sober. At the end of the course he needed to stop based on a signal. He then ran the course legally drunk. It took him 4 extra feet to stop. When the same editor sobered up he ran the course again. This time he was reading an email on his blackberry. The driver needed 36 feet more than the initial stopping distance! The final run of the course, he was actually composing a text. Can you guess the final stopping distance?
70 FEET when going 70 mph!
So, the next time you are in a meeting and you reach for your phone, stop and think about it. Do you really want to be worse than DRUNK in that meeting? I didn't think so.