"Multitasking is dumbing us down and driving us crazy"

Jimmy and Grandad watch Mr. BenAttention deficit and the impacts of multi-tasking have been themes on this blog for a while now. It all started with me thinking about whether it is possible to have a “strong” brain, and whether it was possible to do things to exercise your brain and make it “stronger”. Along the way I came across the issue of attention deficit trait and the impact of multi-tasking.

Walter Kirn has written a fascinating article on the impact of multi-tasking. It starts with this bold statement:

Neuroscience is confirming what we all suspect: Multitasking is dumbing us down and driving us crazy. One man’s odyssey through the nightmare of infinite connectivity.

It even gives some wonderful statistics on the impact:

Six hundred and fifty billion dollars. That’s what we might call our National Attention Deficit, according to Jonathan B. Spira, who’s the chief analyst at a business- research firm called Basex and has estimated the per annum cost to the economy of multitasking-induced disruptions. (He obtained the figure by surveying office workers across the country, who reported that some 28 percent of their time was wasted dealing with multitasking- related transitions and interruptions.)

But the real joy in this article is the story that surrounds all of the information, and for that, you need to read the article.

One of the reasons I am writing this post is that I had planned to work from home today because I need to get my head around some thing. Working from home normally allows me to blank out everything and focus in on the core task. Unfortunately my neighbour has started some building work today and the trucks keep reversing up the cul-de-sac with those annoying reversing warnings blaring away. However much I try to focus in on the important thing, the distractions keep coming, and you can only turn the quiet music up so load. There’s no point in me trying to get my head around the task that is ahead of me because I will just get distracted, try to regain my thought, get distracted, get frustrated, and on and on.

If this post comes to you as an interruption – sorry, but it’s really your fault for not turning off the notification on whatever reader you are using. You are allowed to turn things off you know.

(Jimmy and Grandad are watching Mr. Benn at the National Media Museum in Bradford. One of the attractions of the museum is to be able to go into one section, choose a programme from the archives and show your kids what television was like when you were a kid. We were all surprised how slow Mr. Benn was. Another sign of the impact we are having on our brains.)

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