Tech-enabled multitasking: A time waste?
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Tech-enabled multitasking: A time waste?

Wednesday, 31 March 2010, 03:14 Hrs   |    14 Comments
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Tech-enabled multitasking: A time waste?
Bangalore: Contrary to assumptions about multi-tasking in devices like PCs, smartphones, notebooks and netbooks being useful, experts believe that it can materially damage the economy. The problem is that human multitasking involves interrupting one task with another, according to a study.

There was a time when "interruption" meant an unexpected phone call or visitor and mail was delivered only once daily, reports Lamont Wood of Computerworld. Now, employees are continually barraged with e-mail, instant messages, texts, BlackBerry traffic, blog updates, news feeds, Tweets, Web sites with enticing links and calendar reminders - and the phone still rings, people still drop by and paper mail is still delivered. Simply dealing with the deluge gives people the illusion of productivity. But statistics indicate that might be all it is - an illusion.

According to Jonathan Spira, Chief analyst at research firm Basex, about 28 percent of an office worker's time is lost to interruptions and recovery time. Taking into account the size of the U.S. knowledge worker workforce (more than 65 million) and the average knowledge worker's salary (more than $21 per hour) and other data that's proprietary, he figures interruptions cost the U.S. about $900 billion per year, out of a gross domestic product of approximately $14.5 trillion.

In particular, efficiency experts are alarmed by the effects of computer-enabled multitasking on office work and office workers. "I used to say that multitasking made a task take 15 percent longer. Now I say 50 percent," says Bary Sherman, Head of PEP Productivity Solutions, a California-based management consultancy that specializes in helping organizations become more efficient.

Efficiency experts say that the productivity issue can be countered by sometimes by turning off seemingly innocent features that serve mostly to distract us, sometimes by using overlooked features that eliminate time-wasting tasks, and sometimes by simply steeling our resolve against the siren song of endless digital distraction.

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Reader's comments(14)
1: nice. a well known fact rediscovered. It is good to increase ur speed an capcity. But id it is not allowing u to register matters in logiccal orderor set priorities after taking a second look, qulity of qwork is likely to suffer. We know the number of small mistakes we commit when we promptly repond to impulsive mails appearing o line.
Multtask means u r tempted to do many but littel for each. u get tired and confused.

but an effiecnt maanger must set his priority after pushing temptation behind him
Posted by:Prof(Dr.) Ramakuma,V. - 02 Apr, 2010
I fully share the views expressed by Prof(Dr.)Ramkumar. It has been my own experience that multitasking does not do full justice to any task.For qulaity wor we need to concentrate on the task.
Piyush C.Sharma Replied to: Prof(Dr.) Ramakuma,V. - 08 Apr, 2010
3: Its good have a new Invention...

But its Harmful as it says..

Posted by:Abdul - 01 Apr, 2010
4: Multitasking is realy a good tool to grab oppertunities which have time boundation, but sometimes its harmfull for urs productivity but only when u r not using it in right manner and right direction
Posted by:Sandeep Kumar - 01 Apr, 2010
5: The results of the study may have strength, but the cost association is strange. It still assumes that humans are machines and if they worked so many more hours a day, they would provide so many more dollars of work.
Posted by:Kaushik - 31 Mar, 2010
well said !
Srikanth Kannan Replied to: Kaushik - 31 Mar, 2010
7: In today's business and corporate environment,if multi-tasking is not possible with anybody,he is a waste person.He is looked at as not so developed and so on. Actually by way of multi-tasking you are satisfying several clients(internal or external) at the same time. For example,I may be sitting in a review meeting at my office and if I get calls from so many of my project sites from different managers, and unless I attend each of those calls instantly and resolve their issues on hand,the problems at each site will be unattended till I call them back one by one after my meeting at office. But, by that time,we may have already passed away the opportunistic moment to get maximum advantage out of each site. This can create a huge loss to the organization in course of time. Hence,I do not agree with the view that multi-tasking will reduce efficiency.If we avoid personal calls and discrimininatively handle mobile calls, then the organization can benefit out of us.Only by mixing personal calls also along with office ones does it make us reduce our efficiency at work. One has to be judicious in handling the mobile calls today,as it is the major deterrent to proceed at work.
Posted by:Theja Kondapalli - 31 Mar, 2010
Your managers possibly do not understand what you're doing. If you get so many calls regarding problems that only you can solve, that is poor personnel management, in my opinion. Also, if you get those calls in an hour, there is a serious personnel mgmt problem at hand. And if you have meetings for more than an hour a day, why do you still handle calls that only you can answer? Then, the problem is catastrophic.
Kaushik Replied to: Theja Kondapalli - 31 Mar, 2010
9: Why to call interruption, if multitasking devices are available. These multitasking devices are giving new working style. Workers find it convenient to attend different type of tasks sitting at a place.
Posted by:Prakash Kumar Rath - 31 Mar, 2010
10: multicastig is one of the greatest tool for efficiently using the capacity of processor either in computers or in hand held mobile phones.Now even in the hand held mobiles they are providing enough RAM to execute the large programing codes.
Posted by:Rishi - 31 Mar, 2010
11: Quite a few organizations look at the ability to multi task as highly desirable, people who cannot do not multi task are not looked kindly upon.
Posted by:Raju - 31 Mar, 2010
12: The more I multitask the lesser I accompalish. Yes it might give a psychological feeling that you are looking into so many things at a moment but human brain is not meant to function that way. More interruptions would impede learning and severely comprimise the ability to take the right decisions. It would often lead to hyperactivity with least accompalishment. The scenario won't change unless there is a culture of root cause analysis and problem resolution so we stop fixing responsibilty on one person when something goes wrong. So that individuals stop behaving hyperactively and stop acting with contant fear that something is going to get wrong. Multitasking is not working intelligently. Even a CPU gets heated up when you starts overutilizing it and that often happens when you multitask it.
Posted by:Sunil Bhasin - 31 Mar, 2010
13: multitasking is not good ...
Posted by:Amit - 30 Mar, 2010
14: Sometimes multitasking can adverse impact on the productivity of the individual, which can affect the company's growth..
Posted by:Hari - 30 Mar, 2010