One thing we’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately is multitasking and it’s effects on your productivity. There’s a fair bit of research that basically says that the human brain just isn’t terribly well optimized for doing more than one thing at the same time. Unfortunately, it’s often not something that seems like much of a choice. So many things have a “right now” urgency and seem to require immediate attention. Additionally, many people report that they feel more productive when doing several things at once.
We’re interested in figuring this out for ourselves, with our own data. We’re playing around with some different ways to look at RescueTime data to get a better handle on it, and we’re seeing some things that look pretty interesting. We’re still trying to figure out a “how much are you multitasking?” metric, but what we have so far suggests that every person on our team is significantly more productive when they focus more on a single task, rather than trying to juggle. While we’re not quite ready to release anything yet, we do want to open up a discussion around it.
What do you think? Is multi-tasking an essential skill that today’s knowledge workers must master? Or is it just a way to feel busier?