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Diverticulated vision

by henrycopeland
Sunday, July 6th, 2003

“ACCORDING to research compiled by David E. Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, multitaskers actually hinder their productivity by trying to accomplish two things at once. Mr. Meyer has found that people who switch back and forth between two tasks, like exchanging e-mail and writing a report, may spend 50 percent more time on those tasks than if they work on them separately, completing one before starting the other.”

I’m sometimes guilty of this and agree that it is bad. My rationalization: I don’t want to be the bottleneck in partner or colleague projects; I’m sacrificing my efficiency for theirs. Umm… usually.

The NYTimes introduces a bunch of tech characters who claim to be more successful, more vibrant, more competitive because they are multitasking. These guys usually sound like self-deceiving boobs, particularly the guy who uses his wireless-enabled laptop, BlackBerry and mobile phone while having imaginary dogfights with his five-year-old son.

“Both love the game, and it has an added benefit for Dad: he can play with one hand while using the other to talk on the phone or check e-mail. The multitasking maneuver occasionally requires a trick: although Mr. Mehlman usually lets his son win the Lego air battles, he sometimes allows himself to win, which forces his son to spend a few minutes putting his plane back together. ‘While he rebuilds his plane, I check my e-mail on the BlackBerry,’ Mr. Mehlman explained.” (He’s got two other kids too.)

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