Multitasking is like driving or cunnilingus; most people assume they’re great at it until they start asking around…
As always Merlin Mann has something to say that is obnoxious, but to the point as well. Yes, people are very bad at multitasking. I thought I did okay, but recently I find that hard to believe of myself. It’s not to bad to switch between tasks that combined only take less than the whole of your attention span. However, if you have a task where you need your whole brain, not just the left or right part, it starts to fall apart.
What can you do in this case?
- Well, I try to get away, if possible. That works like a charm when I do not need my computer. When I do, well, I’m (literally) stuck.
- Posting a note on the door telling everybody they can come in during ‘visiting hours’ does not work. At all. Unless you get very impolite, which is rather against my nature, I suppose. You can tell people to come back another time, but if you break that rule once for somebody, anybody feels they can break the rule as well. So, visiting hours, yes, if you can keep the discipline of telling everybody to, basically, come back during visiting hours or send email.
But, people walking in, even if you tell then to come back later, take your focus away from the task at hand, and you need time to get back in. That’s when I get sidetracked: “Ok, I’ve been interrupted anyway, I’ll check the email before I get back to the groove.” At that point in time, I’ve lost the flow and takes me even longer to get back in.