MULTITASK— AT YOUR OWN RISK

Fast Company - - Secrets Of The Most Productive People - BY ART MARK­MAN

Most of us like to claim we’re ex­cel­lent mul­ti­taskers, but decades of re­search by cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists into “dual-task per­for­mance” re­veals that when hu­mans ac­tu­ally at­tempt two things at once, we slow down, and per­for­mance in both ar­eas suf­fers.

While true mul­ti­task­ing—do­ing two or more things si­mul­ta­ne­ously—is rarely ef­fec­tive, sen­si­ble tog­gling among ac­tiv­i­ties can be fruit­ful. Stud­ies, in­clud­ing a sem­i­nal 2007 one called “Pro­duc­tiv­ity Ef­fects in In­for­ma­tion Dif­fu­sion in Net­works” from MIT’S Sloan School of Man­age­ment, show that peo­ple who jug­gle be­tween two and four projects at a time tend to be more pro­duc­tive than those who fo­cus ex­clu­sively on one. This way, you can con­tinue mak­ing progress in one area when you’ve tem­po­rar­ily run out of steam in an­other. Re­view the chart be­low to de­ter­mine whether the alchemy be­tween two ac­tiv­i­ties is likely to suc­ceed—or ex­plode.

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