Sunday, February 9, 2014

Multitasking's the Worst, and So Is E-Mail

It's easy enough to walk into any workplace and hear people bragging about all the multitasking they do, but, as pointed out by Matthew Fritz, what gets undervalued today is the ability to focus and prioritize. Multitasking can be downright harmful: Rahul Mayak on Twitter cited a Time/Inc. article by Issie Lapowsky that discusses recent research on the negative effects of multitasking.

One big culprit? E-mail. As Lapowsky points out, almost a quarter of our work time is spent on e-mail, and almost all of it increases multitasking--and tension. According to a study out of University of California, Irvine, when employees were cut off from e-mail for five days, their levels of stress and focus increased. That's not to say that e-mail is inherently bad, but it does show how people use it to pay forward the chaos and instability their own multitasking creates.