Are you one of those people who pride themselves on multitasking? Texting while in a meeting, continuing to type your email while your colleague is asking something, mailing while being on the phone with a customer, taking the trash out while talking to your spouse on the phone.
The worst; texting while driving.
It is hard not to see people multi task these days. Kids sit in front of the TV with their laptops. Tablets seem to be invented for use while being in meetings or on the go.
One question is why people multi task and the answer for kids is probably that they need more inputs to satisfy their hunger for action and total immersion. For the working adult there are probably explanations that range from being overloaded with tasks through being easily bored to believing that multi tasking leads to faster results and more productivity.
Research shows that you only feel that you have accomplished more but multi tasking primarily serves an emotional need, not a productivity goal. Dr Zheng Wang, PhD at the Ohio State university has done the research among college students and warns that multi tasking can become a chronic nonproductive behavior among students.
The same goes for people in their jobs. Multi tasking does not increase the productivity but serves a number of emotional needs, like the feeling of accomplishment and a more entertaining way of dealing with otherwise boring tasks. Add to this the feelings it may unleash in your colleague when you continue to work when asked a question or the feelings of the presenter when most of the audience seems involved in blackberries, tablets or smartphones. You may want to rethink your multi tasking behavior and see how it feels to focus for a change.