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We always knew it . . .

13 Sep

Multitasking gets in the way of effective performance.  It’s something “everyone knows” and now there’s proof.  Deborah Hartman Preuss posted a news item on www.infoq.com that talks about a Stanford University study that investigated the impact of ongoing multitasking has on productivity and effectiveness. 

The conclusions:

Researchers were particularly surprised that what they called “heavy media multi-taskers” performed worse on a test of task-switching ability, “likely due to reduced ability to filter out interference from the irrelevant task set.”

This study again confirms what cognitive scientists have said all along: processing multiple incoming streams of information is considered a challenge for human cognition.

The article can be found at http://www.infoq.com/news/2009/09/study-multitasking-performance and the Stanford study at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/08/21/0903620106.abstract 

This is a message that “everyone knows” but so often gets forgotten in the workplace.

Posted by Shane Hastie

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1 Comment

Posted by on September 13, 2009 in Quality

 

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One response to “We always knew it . . .

  1. Sharon Robson

    September 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

    are you sure??? I’m pretty sure that women can do this :-)…are we just kidding ourselves? WOW! So, how do we incorporate this into the “agile” cross-functional small team roles? There tends to be a lot of task switching in this type of work. I guess it also depends on the granularity of the task and how you define switching. For example, if I’m writing this blog and the phone rings and I answer it – is that task switching? Or is it only task switching if I then stop writing and do something else as a result of the phone call. Should we not answer the phone? This also has interesting ramifications for estimation. Should we consider the overhead for ramp up time for each task? Interesting! Thought provoking! maybe a little scary!

     

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