Multitasking - Oh How Terrible :)

Posted by Joe George at

Human multitasking is getting a lot of bad press lately. The point is that if you are trying to do more than one thing at once it isn't very efficient. You may even get less done than if you do the tasks one at a time. I think the capability for multitasking varies greatly. I have had employees that could solder quickly and reliably while carrying on an animated conversation with the person next to them. Others can not work and talk at the same time at all. Then there are those who can't talk while driving without looking at the other person nearly constantly. Scary!

I think it is certainly good to try to do one thing at a time, but real life seems to interfere most of the time. Multitasking is something a person can improve at and one should work at getting better at it.

There are times when multitasking makes total sense. I engaged in purposeful multitasking tonight. I watched two episodes of Merlin followed by two episodes of Dr Who. At the same time I routed a several PC boards. I have to admit I was not totally efficient at watching TV. This resulted in my asking "wait, what just happened? and "back it up a little I have to watch it again" a couple of times. My efficiency could have been low enough that I will have to watch these very same episodes again some day to absorb the full experience.

But wait! The boards I routed are done. Was I as efficient routing them as I could have been if I was single tasking? No, of course not. But I enjoyed watching TV and the boards are done - oh how terrible!

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