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Old 05-06-2013, 11:44 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
20,557 posts, read 14,898,679 times
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Every job seems to place a heavy emphasis on "multitasking." A cell phone may alert us to a new text while we're on a phone call, with Outlook alerting us to a new email on our computer screen. People are encouraged to do more than one thing a time, which can be healthy and efficient if done correctly, but it seems the many tasks we are trying to do simultaneously are preventing individual tasks from being done at all or they're done inefficiently/incorrectly.

I was thinking yesterday about how inefficiently I am getting some tasks done. I work in a technical support position, so I will have email, a work order system, and several other programs up concurrently. There are times I'll be working on an email, get a telephone call, spend fifteen minutes or so on the phone, and completely forget that I was working on the email. The worst part is that I cannot multitask in an efficient, organized way that allows me to complete tasks - things are thrown on me and then I'm put "on the spot" and have to deal with it however I can at the time. I have almost no control over my workflow and this leads me feeling scatterbrained and powerless. Many tasks may get started, but few are completed correctly and in an efficient way.

In college, I used to be able to read and write for considerably long amounts of time, focusing on the task at hand and able to work without interruption. My concentration is not what it was even a few years ago. I'm finding my mind "jumps" between different tasks, sometimes due to things out of my control, other times because I can't seem to concentrate long enough nor motivate myself to start and complete the task.

Are you noticing that people are having trouble feeling scatterbrained and feeling pulled in too many directions at once these days?
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Old 05-06-2013, 12:53 PM
 
1,765 posts, read 2,293,876 times
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Yep. I can agree with this as from my own personal experiences I have so many distractions that it can be exhausting just trying to keep up and tbh, I experience substantial amounts of mental fatigue with things that once use to be incredibly easy for me to get through.

It's really funny because one of the things they tell people is that if you want to properly manage stress and improve time-management, do one thing at a time! I told myself that as soon as I'm done with school, I'll be getting putting down a lot of the things that leave me feeling scatter-brained and focusing on getting my focus back.

We'll see how it goes.
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Old 05-06-2013, 02:26 PM
 
Location: USA
7,778 posts, read 9,506,787 times
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Some can multitask and some can't. It is not the fault of society.
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:00 PM
 
Location: Hopewell Va.
257 posts, read 245,336 times
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Yeah...all the preservatives in our food,and the chem-trails they spray all over us from jets everyday. Is what I believe is a major cause. "Evil" world leaders...
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:02 PM
 
1,765 posts, read 2,293,876 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiscombobulateYa View Post
Yeah...all the preservatives in our food,and the chem-trails they spray all over us from jets everyday. Is what I believe is a major cause. "Evil" world leaders...
Wait...are you joking? Because some people genuinely believe this...
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:12 PM
 
Location: A place that's too cold
4,046 posts, read 3,984,848 times
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From The Myth of Multitasking - Forbes

"...when it comes to the brain ability to pay attention, the brain focuses on concepts sequentially and not on two things at once. In fact, the brain must disengage from one activity in order to engage in another. And it takes several tenths of a second for the brain to make this switch. As John Medina, author of “Brain Rules” says: “To put it bluntly, research shows that we can’t multitask. We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously.”

I've never believed that multi-tasking, in terms of mental tasks, was possible. I don't believe that anyone can simultaneously be reading one thing while listening to a speaker, for example. The brain can flit from one to the other, but it will not take in 100% of the information from both sources.

It has been a frustration of mine to work for managers who do not grasp this basic fact, and who push for "multi-tasking" beyond what is safely possible.
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:35 PM
 
173 posts, read 503,586 times
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The key is to prioritize better. The "delegators" are swamped themselves, they will bug you, because that's on their to do list. Do no fret. Do what needs to get done first. Do not envision the amount of stuff you have to do, that will make your brain hurt before you even start. Envision only completing what you start.

The reality is, nowadays we can't do everything we're expected to do. More is asked of us, because almost everyone is multi-tasking. Eventually, things will slow down. A lot of time ($$$) is waisted on NOTHING. The time one spends switching tasks and pondering what one is actually doing, multiplied by millions of people, that's a lot of wasted resources.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:04 AM
 
Location: In a chartreuse microbus
3,843 posts, read 5,065,251 times
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Back in my receptionist days, I can tell you that multi-tasking only diluted any task. There was no way to simultaneously answer the phone, greet a visitor, compute expense reports, type minutes for the weekly meeting, fix a printer jam, make copies, schedule appointments, file and make coffee. Once I admitted that to myself, I ran the office much more efficiently. That article in Forbes is spot on, and I was glad to see someone else validate what I already had figured out.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:25 AM
 
Location: A place that's too cold
4,046 posts, read 3,984,848 times
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The brain is able to process only a limited amount of information at any given moment in time. Managers pushing for multi-tasking (i.e. continuing to do data entry work on the computer while taking phone calls, a particular combination of tasks I've observed in many companies), are ignoring basic neurological facts.

Another impossible combination that is attempted by almost everyone these days: talking on cell phone while driving. There is interesting research that shows how much the peripheral field of vision shrinks during a cell phone call.

From:
The dangers of driving and talking on the cellphone | BC Medical Journal

"As well, using a cellphone causes impairment to our peripheral vision, similar to horse blinkers, rendering us blind to objects we would normally have no trouble seeing (for example, a child in a crosswalk). Maples and colleagues measured visual fields on study participants when they were having a cellphone conversation and when they were not. They found greater overall constriction between the visual field isopters plotted during cellphone use compared with no cellphone use.[8] It would appear that our brain recruits neurons for activities that require our attention, such as having a cellphone conversation, although we are not aware this is occurring."
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Over There
402 posts, read 1,198,958 times
Reputation: 760
Lightbulb Compromise Quality for Quantity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emigrations View Post
. . . it seems the many tasks we are trying to do simultaneously are preventing individual tasks from being done at all or they're done inefficiently/incorrectly.

. . . completely forget that I was working on . . . cannot multitask in an efficient, organized way that allows me to complete tasks . . . feeling scatterbrained and powerless. Many tasks may get started, but few are completed correctly and in an efficient way.

. . . I'm finding my mind "jumps" between different tasks . . . I can't seem to concentrate long enough . . .
I agree! Multi-tasking could be training your brain to jump from one thing to another. It sounds like we are teaching and encouraging a disordered (almost ADHD) type of focus. ". . . research shows that multitasking can have long-term harmful effects on brain function. . . . frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively."
Don’t Multitask: Your Brain Will Thank You | TIME.com

Trying to make your brain (or both sides of your brain) focus on more that two things at a time seems like a recipe for disaster or at least poor quality. I think that you compromise quality for quantity with most multi-tasking.


This reminds me of a sign that I once saw:

We offer Good, Fast, and Cheap Service:
Good service will be slow and expensive.
Fast service will be poor and cheap.
Cheap service will be fast and poor.
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