The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, March 24, 2003

a serene scene
Are you a multitasking maniac? Are you, like, currently reading this blog in your office while simultaneously talking to a coworker and IMing another and, perhaps, slurping down a delicious Campbell's Soup-At-Hand for lunch? Are you proud of yourself as a result?

Well, don't be, because being a juggling fool ain't as effective as we've been led to believe. So sayeth The Wall Street Journal, which reports that there's plenty of evidence that multitasking winds up putting a huge strain on the brain and usually makes you less, not more, productive. In other words, you're not multitasking, you're really multi-tanking.

I've certainly experienced the brain cramps described here, and I'm sure they're attributable to having too many gears turning in the noggin' at once. Coupled with the chronic lack of sleep most Americans endure, it results in a less-than-sharp waking mental state. I'm sure that some people have the right kind of mental hardwiring that enables them to perform 4 or 5 things at once (a mere pair of tasks is probably bush league for people with this mindset). But as noted, you're kidding yourself if you think you can divide your attention X number of directions and still be able to devote a good amount of brainpower toward any one.

I've always felt multitasking was overrated, more an opportunity to show off rather than to be productive. Especially accursed are those who mix business and personal matters into their multitasked existences. I'm sure your loved ones really appreciate being patronized while you fiddle with that super-important Excel spreadsheet, Mom. That Campbell's Soup-At-Hand is a particularly stupid product because the marketing for it aims straight at these multitasking freaks; not only in their TV ads, but even the intro graphic on that website.