How many of you are proud of your ability to “multitask”? How many of you would add this skill to your resume/cover letter or even share it as one of your strengths during a job interview?
If you answered in the affirmative to any of these questions, STOP IT NOW!
Multitasking is not something to be proud of and should be avoided at all costs.
Study after study points to the dangers of multitasking in both the workplace and in everyday life. Has anyone heard of the distracted driving laws in place all across Canada? See Christine Rosen’s article entitled The Myth of Multitasking for more fascinating examples.
What if I told you that multitasking in the classroom or while studying is ineffective? This is absolutely true according to my observations. But if you don’t believe me (fair enough) you can check out the findings from a recent study conducted by researchers from York University’s Department of Psychology who found that students who use a laptop to browse the Internet while listening to a lecture performed poorly. Get this. It’s not just the offending Internet surfer who is affected. The study also found that students sitting near the offender were impacted negatively. This is pretty powerful stuff.
If you want to experience firsthand how you are personally impacted by multitasking, try this exercise I picked up about a year ago from a professional organizer. In order to complete this exercise you will need a timer, pen/pencil and this sheet:
This is what the finished product will look like:
Follow these instructions:
- Read all instructions first (always a good idea).
- Set timer.
- Complete section 1. Fill in the lines by alternating between the two lines (i.e. enter “M” first, 1 second, U third, 2 fourth, etc.).
- Document time to complete section 1.
- Set timer.
- Complete section 2. Fill in the letters on line one first and numbers on line two second.
- Document time to complete section 2.
What did you find? If you are like the students who have completed this exercise in my classes, it would have taken you approximately 60 seconds to complete section 1 and 26 seconds to complete section 2.
What does this mean? You could save a significant amount of time in your day by FOCUSING. Forget about bouncing back between your textbook, email, text messages and phone calls. Remove all interruptions (it is possible to close your computer screen and turn off your cell phone) and get the work done!
Try the 60/40/20 rule and see if it works for you. This is what you do:
- 60 minutes of uninterrupted work.
- 40 minutes of email/voicemail/text checking and returns.
- 20 minutes for a break.
Why is this so hard to do? I don’t really know. But I do know that those who focus will perform better both in the classroom and in the workplace.
Are you up for the challenge?
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_gibson/3281131319/”>gothick_matt</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>