Is Muti Tasking Overrated?

31 replies
Multi tasking seems to be a word that's on everyone's lips these days. There's growing evidence that multi tasksing is costing more money and time than most people realize.

In my wilder (and dumber days) I used to text and talk on the cell phone while driving. Not suggested, especially on Southern California freeways at rush hour.

But I still find it hard to resist when doing routine task or when I'm running behind on my to do list. But I've been "text while driving free" for 14 months now. However, I do multi task while doing routine computer work and writing reports.

Are you a good multi tasker? If so, at what?
And Can multi tasking be taught?
#muti #overrated #tasking
  • Profile picture of the author Christian Little
    At any given time I have 50 windows open on my desktop, does that count? lol
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by Christian Little View Post

      At any given time I have 50 windows open on my desktop, does that count? lol
      You and me both. I believe multi tasking on a PC is a definite time saver and very low risk - Compared to doing it while driving or some other life and limb threatening activity.
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  • Profile picture of the author Christian Little
    If you want a challenge, learn how to Fork. I still get lost trying to do it when I'm working on various things.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Originally Posted by Christian Little View Post

      If you want a challenge, learn how to Fork. I still get lost trying to do it when I'm working on various things.
      Not sure how to fork, is that similar to "spooning?"
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      • Profile picture of the author Christian Little
        Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

        Not sure how to fork, is that similar to "spooning?"
        lol

        I know guys that have like 10 forks running on a single console, I have no idea how they keep it straight in their head.
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        • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
          Banned
          Originally Posted by Christian Little View Post

          lol

          I know guys that have like 10 forks running on a single console, I have no idea how they keep it straight in their head.
          pardon my naievity, but what would forking be?
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          • Profile picture of the author seasoned
            Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

            pardon my naievity, but what would forking be?
            Forking usually refers to something splitting. In POSIX code(an old UNIX standard), there was only one standard way to have a single program use multiple threads, and it was to, and called, fork.

            Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    Driving and texting/phoning is getting banned in more and more jurisdictions and I just wish the fines would be a bit harsher (than $500 in Ontario, for example).

    Jail time would be way more appropriate having in mind that texting impairs drivers more then drinking!

    Multi-tasking is a feminist conspiracy against the disciplined, focused, deep-thinking males :p
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    • Profile picture of the author DireStraits
      Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post

      Multi-tasking is a feminist conspiracy against the disciplined, focused, deep-thinking males :p
      LOL. I'm prepared to accept that as the gospel truth.

      Yes. Ermmm. Multi-tasking. Well, I suppose it depends on the type of tasks you're doing. Driving and having a phone conversation is one thing, but I think a person would struggle to - say - write an article and practise guitar simultaneously.

      Call me a spoil-sport, but a lot of what people (women, especially ) proudly consider multi-tasking isn't really multi-tasking at all, so much as it is switching between tasks rapidly and frantically - stumbling from crisis to crisis, if you will - and making a half-arsed effort (and sometimes a total hash) of each.

      I've always preferred to focus on one thing at once, and give it my full attention ... at least if the quality of the outcome, rather than just "getting it done", is of any importance - which it often is.
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
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      Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post


      Multi-tasking is a feminist conspiracy against the disciplined, focused, deep-thinking males :p
      lol ... good way to justify your inability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.
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      • Profile picture of the author DireStraits
        Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

        lol ... good way to justify your inability to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.
        Oohhh, but he can: Istvan can grow a beard, answer your Wordpress queries and wage war against feminists simultaneously. And that's only with one hand!

        I, on the other hand (not literally on his other hand), have to run bare-footed across hot coals, do pull-ups on a razor-studded bar and chew rusty rivets just to make my beard grow!
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    • Profile picture of the author stephfoster
      Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post

      Multi-tasking is a feminist conspiracy against the disciplined, focused, deep-thinking males :p
      Curses, you figured it out. Now we have to find some other way to ruin your productivity.

      Seriously, I don't multitask on anything that needs focus. It just doesn't work that well. I may switch between projects if I hit a mental block on one, but that's not really multitasking.

      Now if you want to count eating dinner while chatting on forums, that's something else, but I'd call it a rather minor sort of multitasking.
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    • Profile picture of the author Linda_C
      Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post

      Multi-tasking is a feminist conspiracy against the disciplined, focused, deep-thinking males :p
      Well dang, no one sent me the memo. I suck at multi-tasking.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    I wouldn't dream of multitasking when driving. Never have, but on the PC is a whole different ballgame. I would get really bored sticking to only one task at a time.
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  • Profile picture of the author alcymart
    I multi-Task Daily, but safely of course. You need to take Safety into account. If one has the smarts to Multi-Task efficiently and safely, why not?Not saying you're not smart, don't get me wrong, but while driving? There are certain tasks one can do safely while driving but they are few.

    How far you push it is your decision, but I sure wouldn't like being alongside you on the highway while you Multi-Task.

    Oops, I bumped in your Car at 70MPH, you went flying... Are you Ok? Oh, look your body is ripped up in 2 parts, Sorry, I was Multi-Tasking...

    Bernard St-Pierre
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    • Profile picture of the author Hesaidblissfully
      I'm much more productive when I focus on one task at a time. That usually means no checking emails, no answering the phone, and I try to assemble any information that I'll need for the task beforehand so that I don't get distracted while searching for information online. Multitasking tends to make me FEEL like I'm getting more stuff done, but tackling one thing at a time leads to more completed tasks.
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  • Profile picture of the author uleesgold
    Banned
    Its a good ability to have , and its good for the ego and self esteem.

    I'd say no.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert Brauer
    YES!

    Multi-tasking reduces your IQ significantly.

    Tim Ferriss references a popular study that shows multi-tasking lowers your IQ MORE than being stoned on pot.
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    • Profile picture of the author Hesaidblissfully
      Originally Posted by prophetmktg View Post

      YES!

      Multi-tasking reduces your IQ significantly.

      Tim Ferriss references a popular study that shows multi-tasking lowers your IQ MORE than being stoned on pot.
      It's probably not accurate to say it lowers your IQ, but that it lowers your performance on certain cognitive tasks. You don't actually get dumber, but perform more poorly on tests, if those tests are done while you multitask.
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    Actually, the term multitask is WAY overused. I have met women that were CLEARLY deficient in that area that say they are great and males can't do it. That is interesting considering how often women want men to do several things at once, and if you don't want to do what THEY want AS WELL, well....

    As for being taught? Well, the more you do it the better you will be. Texting is a BAD example since most people don't see well outside of the fovia. It IS interesting that detecting color changes on the very periphery is CHILDS PLAY, but trying to read there is something I doubt very many even dare attempt. So you have to look down on the phone to text, and that takes your eyes off the road. Can you do both at once? SURE! But you better allow yourself a good distance and hopefully not have cars to the side. ALSO, of course, you can't let your mind wander in texting. It is a SHAME! Stopped at a light, you could text, and be ready to leave the MOMENT the light changes, but good luck looking at the road and reading the text. 8-(

    Still, if I have to figure out what is wrong with a program(Sometimes I almost feel like I have a printout in my hand, and can debug it. Interestingly I have had some of my best success when I wasn't near a computer or printout.), have each hand doing a different task, and drive along while listening to the radio, I can do OK.

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    This thread only has about 1/20th of my attention because I'm
    engaged in talking on the phone, cooking dinner, putting on my
    pants, washing the cat, and reading "Ulysses" in addition to all
    my money-making online activities such as creating 3 of the most
    multi-billion dollar sales letters of all time simultaneously, but I
    would have to say, YES, multi-tasking is definitely over-rated
    and a bad idea.
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  • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
    As I type this, I am brushing my teeth, showering, bathing the dog, washing my car, and sculpting a clay bust of Bruce Springsteen.
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  • Profile picture of the author royrev
    Multi-tasking may be hard for people who cannot handle pressure. I think it's good when you know how to organize and manage things first before you engage into certain activities. There are times that we can't serve two masters at the same time but we really need to. LOL.
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    You can only do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. Computers only do one thing at a time, too. It's just another buzzword that will die soon.
    In a WAY you are right. But you DO realize that there are pipelines and interupt driven circuitry that make it possible in a computer to do effectively SEVERAL things at once. In fact, Intel, on the 8086 family line, has ALWAYS had an available FPU. So doing some complicated integer math, or floating point math, could be done while the CPU was running full bore. Since the 486, they have built it into the CPU. The 486 still had a LOW yield, and high price, so they DID have the sx line, but that wasn't designed to be that way originally. Corporations have, for a while, used clusters and multi CPU systems, and NOW they have multiple cores to do the same thing for home systems.

    For people, likewise, some things are easier than others. There's that old joke about some people not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Well, some can do a lot more than that. Are they simply switching parts, like an old multi tasking computer? SOMETIMES. But sometimes they aren't. The old computers with the FPU, for example, could do floating point, and integer in tandom. But trying to do a lot of floating point, or a lot of integer stuff, left things IDLE!

    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDayle
      Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

      Utter nonsense, Steve. At any given time, you can only be doing one thing. You may be able to prioritize and manage more than one project within a given time frame, but the moment is always the moment.

      Machines simply handle tasks faster. Can you program a machine to do more than one task at a time? If you're linking CPUs together, you have two CPUs doing separate tasks at the same time.

      I'd link to studies, but I ain't in the mood.

      Multi-tasking is beyond human capability.

      Try holding more than one thought in your head some time.
      Don't mean to burst your bubble, and perhaps multi-tasking is beyond your capability... I know that I do it nearly all of the time, and have known quite a few people that were very good at it. (I suppose it depends on how you define multi-tasking.) I like Steve's analogy, and have found similar argument useful in discussions of this sort in the past. I don't know if the mind does a rapid enough swapping between the tasks to make it seem to be simultaneous, or truly performs entirely separate threads like a multi-processor computer, and don't particularly care, because the effect is the same, just as with a computer that is multi-tasking.

      Funny, but I really think that there are a lot of tasks in their lives that some would think of as single threaded instead of parallel processed (to steal a few terms from computers, where the term multi-tasking became popular).
      Can you really say that driving a standard shift automobile is a single tasked process? At least on some level, it requires watching the road ahead of you, maintaining position in your lane, while simultaneously paying attention to the sound the engine makes to determine if you need to shift up or down due to engine load. You don't consciously think "listen to the engine, is it going too fast or laboring?", you automatically do it. This is at least a rudimentary method of multi-tasking. Some of the other things involved in driving may be part of a single task at a time regimen, like maintaining the proper pressure on the accelerator to stay at a given speed, or scanning mirrors and/or the sides of the road to assess whether there are "incoming" elements that you have to avoid. Yes, I know that a LOT of people have great difficulty with even this, because I see them on the highway all of the time.

      Taking this farther, some people don't really seem to have much ability to perform multiple tasks seamlessly, or at least they do it poorly. They believe because they cannot do something (or recognize that they can do something), nobody else can. This mental block essentially prevents them from growing in many ways.

      Personally, I have, and routinely do multi-task. That means I consciously work on several threads at a time. Whether I am focusing on each in turn with a very fast switching rate (through time division multiplexing like a single core processor would do) or perform all of the threads in parallel like a multi-processor setup is immaterial. I can and do get more than one thing done at a time. As a young man, it wasn't difficult to be reading a book, listeniing to radio or watching television, and participating intelligently in a multi-person conversation all at the same time. Used to drive my wife nuts because I could keep up with all three tasks at once. With practice and a bit of personal dedication, it wasn't all that hard. After awhile, it becomes almost automatic.
      Yep, even two visual tasks at once. Peripheral vision takes care of the less critical task like "watching" tv, while central vision is used for the more difficult. Keeping track of two or more threads of conversation isn't all that difficult either, with some practice.

      I think the key is like the old saw "If you don't believe you can do something, you are most certainly right."

      The human mind is a wonderous thing. No matter how much hardware and software we throw at a problem, we still haven't been able to come close to the capabilities of the human mind. A well known "fact" is that most people use perhaps 5% of the capacity of the mind. Some days, I run into people that act as if they use a lot less. Occasionally I find someone that appear to be using considerably more. We are all differnet, and I think it is folly to categorically deny that it "is beyond human capability".
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  • Profile picture of the author MissLauraCatella
    That's what we do these days, multitask. Information comes SO quickly and, it seems most of us Warriors at least, are used to getting it so fast that we keep on piling more and more.

    I don't know how many times I open up another page while one page is loading (the 2-3 painstakingly long seconds it takes a site to load...), then wind up in a different world for 5-10 minutes. Does it affect my productivity? Sometimes. Always depends.

    So long as I stay up into the night finishing all the things I've started, it's all good.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marvin Johnston
    I don't think multi-tasking per se is realistic ... it is just too costly. There are studies (can't find them right now) showing the amount of time lost each time a change of concentration is required.

    Multi-tasking is mostly a myth.

    Now if someone is competing in a market that I am in, then I would highly encourage them to multi-task .

    Marvin
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  • Profile picture of the author fanimal
    The biggest advantage of multitasking is that you do not get bored as fast as when doing just one thing.
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