Personal productivity maestro Merlin Mann drops links to an NYT article and a scientific study, both of which point out that multitasking really just makes you less productive. The problem is that when your concentration gets broken, it takes you a long time to re-immerse yourself in whatever you were originally doing. You may think you’re actually saving time by reading The Scarlet Pimpernel while simultaneously driving your car in the rain and listening to a “How to Learn French” podcast, but you’re not only courting danger, you’re also just tricking yourself into thinking you’re really getting anything done.
This all makes intuitive sense, because anyone knows that doing the three things listed above at the same time is foolish. But my guess, based on observation, is that we’re all multitaskers to one degree or another. We talk in the lounge while “reading.” I often eat lunch while reading for a class, which results in a less than satisfactory sandwich-eating experience, crumbs all over my casebook, and a confused understanding of the four-factor test for 1st Amendment analysis of commercial speech.
What’s your take on multitasking? Is it as bad as Merlin says, or is it just a fact of modern life? How to do you combat the tendency in our multitasking-oriented world to do six things at once? Is it even worth combatting? Should it be embraced? Comments welcome.