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22 May

Media multitask less and become quicker off the mark


Datum: 2017-05-22 14:10

Most of us need some degree of focus in order to get things done. Per­haps it is even one of the most impor­tant aspects of how we suc­cess­ful­ly accom­plish what we are so good at.

But, many peo­ple have so many dif­fer­ent things going on at the office that they rarely get a longer stretch of unin­ter­rupt­ed time dur­ing which they get to focus on one sin­gle task, but need to switch between assign­ments often. When this is the case, we need to be able to shift task and focus quick­ly with­out los­ing momen­tum and direction.

One (new) thing at a time often
A study con­duct­ed by the Stan­ford researchers Ophir, Nass and Wag­n­er com­pare the abil­i­ty to focus on a task as well as the task-switch­ing abil­i­ty” between heavy media mul­ti­taskers” and light media multitaskers”.

So what is then media mul­ti­task­ing”? It is what we do when we have sev­er­al chan­nels open or active at once, where the chan­nels in ques­tion could for instance be TV, stream­ing video, music, sounds that are not music, com­put­er games, chat/​instant mes­sag­ing, SMS, email, webb brows­er tabs, com­put­er pro­grams (such as Word or the likes), and actu­al­ly print­ed text as well.

The great amount of media slows us down
The study showed that those who media mul­ti­task a lot had greater dif­fi­cul­ties focus­ing and were more sus­cep­ti­ble to dis­tract­ing exter­nal fac­tors, than those who rarely mul­ti­task with regards to infor­ma­tion input. Not a major sur­prise there, if you ask me. But, what might be more sur­pris­ing is that the heavy media mul­ti­taskers found it much more dif­fi­cult to switch between tasks than the light media multitaskers.

So, if we want to be able to focus prop­er­ly and switch between assign­ments with ease, we will be wise to media mul­ti­task less. 

Do this
Through­out the day today, notice how many chan­nels you have going on” simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Do you have more chan­nels active than you need or per­haps should have? Turn off, shut down or put away one or sev­er­al media chan­nels or devices so that you from this day forth do not have more than you can han­dle open and active at once.

At the end of the week, make a point of notic­ing how this has made a dif­fer­ence to you.

If you still want many chan­nels active simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, you can at least min­i­mize the neg­a­tive effects by tak­ing prop­er breaks, some­thing I have writ­ten about in a pre­vi­ous edi­tion of Done! (Done368).

Few­er chan­nels for more focus
Judg­ing by the study I men­tioned, you will find your focus faster and switch between tasks with grace and ease if you media mul­ti­task less than you usu­al­ly do. How that might help you, your work and your busi­ness, is up to you to find out.

But Ophir, Nass and Wag­n­er also empha­size that there might be research com­ing prov­ing the exact oppo­site to be true and which indi­cates pos­i­tive effects that we are not yet ful­ly aware of, so who is to say media mul­ti­task­ing is all bad.

What’s your way?
Have you recent­ly done away with some chan­nel” which you now close down every time you need to focus? Did it make a dif­fer­ence to your con­cen­tra­tion? Please write a com­ment and share how you have cut back on media multitasking. 

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