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Is Multitasking worth the effort?

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Dean Campbell

on 6 May 2014

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Transcript of Is Multitasking worth the effort?

Is Multitasking worth the effort?

How do we define Multitasking?
What does research tell us about multitasking?
Are we effective?
Why do we multitask?
1 explanation
Another explanation
Yet another explanation
It has its advantages.
It also has many disadvantages!
Based on Jim Harvey's speech structures
People perform more than one task at the same time.
(Shoa & Shoa, 2012).
Alternating between one or more ongoing activities.
(Buser & Peter, 2012).
Shifting focus and attention required to undertake more than one task.
(Benbunan-Fich & Truman, 2009).
People are less constrained when performing tasks,
More decisive,
Greater variety of tasks,
Potential to increase company profits.
People can become less efficient in performing tasks.
It can lead to mistakes.
It can be complex.
It can can cause stress.
(Souitaris & Maestro, 2011)
(Sykes, 2011)
Some research shows that only a very small portion of people can successfully multitask.
Gen Y/I-Generation are more likely to multitask.
Computers are providing tools and software to foster multitasking.
Ensuing tasks appear to suffer as a result of people interchanging tasks.
Some people become stimulated when performing several tasks and increase their cognitive resources. However, too much stimulation can lead to poor performance.
People are most effective when they have the aptitude, inclination and the work environment fits the user.
No conclusive evidence that either gender is better at multitasking.
Working Memory Capacity & intelligence influence Multitasking.

To reach our ultimate potential and output.
Some workplaces just demand it.
Some people prefer multitasking (Polychronicity).
Some people become bored when focussing on a single task.
Many people alternate between tasks subconsciously.
(König & Waller, 2010)
(Leroy, 2009)
(Brasel & Gips, 2011)
(Benitez, Carrier, Chang, Cheever & Rosen, 2009)
(Adler, Benbunan-Fich & Mavlanova, 2011)
(Leroy, 2009)
(Bruk-Lee, Gutierrez, Kantrowitz, Sanderson & Viswesvaran, 2013)
(Buser & Peter, 2012)
(Colom, Martinez - Molina, Santacreu, & Shih, 2010)
Should Multitasking be encouraged?
A plane missed its destination because the pilots were distracted by other tasks on a laptop computer,
A train crash in California killed 9 people because the driver was texting on his mobile phone,
People focus on messages on their mobile phones when engaging their work colleagues,
Should be discouraged in certain settings, such as surgical theatres, dentist practices, driving vehicles etc.
Traffic accidents are being caused by distractions of using mobile phones when driving.
(Benbunan-Fich, 2012)
(Lai, 2013)
(The West Australian, 2011)
How can Multitasking be restricted?
• Turn off electronic devices,
• Turn off automatic alert notifications,
• Don’t use dual monitors,
• Allocate times to be spent on single tasks,
• Leave smartphones, PDA’s at desks when attending meetings

(Shao & Shao, 2012)
New technology is making multitasking more common-place.
Youngest sector of workforce are more likely and capable of multitasking.
Failure to concentrate on one task can lead to stress and errors.
Most multitasking work results in person fitting the job – not the job fitting the person!
Most research is negative but acknowledges the reality that it is likely to increase in most jobs

Adler, R.F., & Benbunan-Fich, R. (2012). Juggling on a high wire: Multitasking effects on performance.
International Journal of Human - Computer Studies, 70,
156-168. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2011.003

Benbunan-Fich, R. (2012). The Ethics and Etiquette of Multitasking in the Workplace.
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 31,
15-19. Doi: 10.1109/MTS.2012.2211391

Benbunan-Fich, R., Adler, R.F., & Mavlanova, T. (2011). Measuring multitasking behavior with activity-based metrics.
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 18,
1-22. doi: 10.1145/1970381.1970381

Benbunan-Fich, R., & Truman, G.E. (2009). Multitasking with laptops during meetings.
Communications of the ACM, 52,
139-141. doi: 10.1145/1461928.1461963

Brasel, S.A., & Gips, J. (2011) Media Multitasking: Concurrent Television and computer usage.
Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking, 14(9),
527-534. doi: 1.1080/cyber.2010.0350

Buser, T., & Peter, N. (2012). Multitasking.
Experimental Economics, 15,
641-655. doi: 10.1007/s10683-012-9318-8

Carrier, M.L., Cheever, N.A., Rosen, L.D., Benitez, S., & Chang, J. (2009). Multitasking across generations: Multitasking choices and difficulty ratings in three generations of Americans.
Computers in Human Behavior, 25,
483-489. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2008.10.012

Colom, R., Martinéz-Colina, A., Shih, P.C., & Santacreu, J. (2010). Intelligence, Working Memory, and Multitasking Performance.
Intelligence, 38,
543-551. doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2010.08.002

Eliot, L. (2011, December 23). Motorists warned not to multitask.
The West Australian.
Retrieved from https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/latest/a/12441943/motorists-warned-not-to-multi-task/

Fast Company. (2010, September 15). Work Smart. Stop Multitasking and do one thing really well. Retrieved from: youtube.com/watch?v=MJuXV6AD93s

Fora Tv. (2011, June 17). Why the Human Brain can’t Multitask. Retrieved from: youtube.com/watch?v=BpD3PxrgICU

Lai, B.S.P. (2013). How good are you in multitasking?
Surgical Practice, 17,
1-1. doi: 10.1111/1744-1633.12006

König, C.J., & Waller, M.J. (2010). Time for Reflection: A Critical Examination of Polychronicity. Human Performance, 23, 173-190. doi: 10.1080/08959281003621703

Leroy, S. (2009). Why is it so hard to do my work? The challenge of attention residue when switching between work tasks.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 109,
168-181. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2009.04.002

Sanderson, K., Bruk‐lee, V., Viswesvaran, C., Gutierrez, S., & Kantrowitz, T. (2013). Multitasking: Do preference and ability interact to predict performance at work?
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 86,
556-563. doi: 10.1111/joop.12025

Shao, D.H., & Shao, L.P. (2012). The effects of multitasking on individual's task performance.
International Journal of Business Strategy, 12,
75-80. Retrieved from: http://content.ebscohost.com/pdf27_28/pdf/2012/3AEW/01Jan12/78092593.pdf?

Souitaris, V., & Maestro, B. M. (2011). The case for multitasking. Harvard Business Review, 89, 32. Retrieved from: http://content.ebscohost.com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/pdf25_26/pdf/2011/HBR/01Oct11/65834414.pdf?T=P&P=AN&K=65834414&S=R&D=bth&EbscoContent=dGJyMNLr40Sep7M4v%2BbwOLCmr0yeprVSsqq4S7SWxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGuskqxqLFRuePfgeyx44Dt6fIA

Sykes, E.R. (2011). Interruptions in the workplace: A case study to reduce their effects.
International Journal of Information Management, 31,
385-394. doi: 10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2010.10.010

Motorists warned not to multi-task,
The West Australian, December, 2011.
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