I know this marks me as a Hopeless Old Fogey, one who doesn’t understand that The Millennials (the “largest generation” by dint of making the “generation” open-ended) are actually mutants whose brains work differently. I’ve heard that often enough, one way or another
But I continue to believe that multitasking–whether under that name or under the fancy name Continuous Partial Attention–is a great way to do several thing badly rather than doing one thing well.
I go so far as to believe that, if some reasonable level of quality is part of the definition of “doing things,” you can accomplish more through focus than through multitasking–in the long run, you’ll get more done.
That includes, by the way, enjoying the music you listen to more because you actually listen to it, enjoying movies or TV more because you’re actually watching them, enjoying books more because you’re actually reading them instead of making them #1 amongst all the distractors…
Paul R. Pival at The Distant Librarian posted this item linking to a study that seems to show that distractors actually do distract. Or, to put it another way, that you don’t learn as well when there are all sorts of other things going on–that CPA results in less effective learning.
I don’t know whether the gurus of gengen, those who proclaim that Today’s Generation Really Is Different (and will never change, and we must transform everything we do to cater to their preferences, and too bad if it alienates non-mutants) will ignore this report, say it doesn’t apply to the real mutants, or argue that it doesn’t matter, or find some other way of dismissing it.
I feel confident that they won’t agree that multitasking–while it may be necessary in lots of cases, and while some people (but, I suspect, not “some generations”) do it better than others–is not the preferred condition for high-quality accomplishment or enjoyment.
Feed readers: Dorothea Salo points up a key omission in my grumpy comment–that, frequently, there’s just no single task that deserves your full attention. In those cases, multitasking makes perfectly good sense. Some people are better at this than others… Go read her comment. She’s right.