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Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Paradoxical Productivity Stealers

Steve Lohr writes about the limits of multitasking. He points out that several research reports, both recently published and not yet published, provide evidence of the limits of multitasking. The findings, according to neuroscientists, psychologists and management professors, suggest that many people would be wise to curb their multitasking behavior when working in an office, studying or driving a car. The professional advice : Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information. Its not that there is no solution to this situation : In the computer age, technology has been seen not only as a factor contributing to information overload but also as a tool for coping with it. Computers can help people juggle workloads. Technology can be used to supplement your brain and keep track of more things but beyond an optimum, more multitasking is associated with declining project completion rates and revenue generation. Work habits are changing a lot. A recent post by Sharad points to an IEEE survey, which finds that for engineers, email is the main way of communicating and typically people spend half your day in meetings, and search the Internet for the latest research instead of reading print journals. All these changes and the ready availability of means to do multi-modal things definitely create a destructive overlap. Another survey found that constant barrage of emails destroy the mind faster than marijuana!!. Emails are degenerating from productivity wonders to maddening time wasteners. No wonder, solutions to knowledge worker's trauma like David Allen's Getting Things Done, always find ready takers. Stressless workday and increasing productivity are things that all executives are constantly striving to accomplish on any day. A couple of days time off from this constant barrage of intrusion makes one fee as if we enter a new life - particularly the blackberry technology makes people almost look insane!! The human cognitive abilities are under constant attack by the advent of new digital gadgets that are popular and the damage to our system is really true - no escaping from this fact - the sooner we find a solution to this menace - it is good for the individual and the society.

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