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Are you Frazzing?

I’m going to have to grab a copy of the latest Time Magazine.  The Seattle PI had an opinion piece from David Horsey which widely quoted it, including these two paragraphs:

Computers, cell phones, BlackBerrys, e-mail, text messaging, the Internet — all these techno toys and new ways to connect are supposed to be making us more productive worker bees, but sometimes it seems as if we’re just buzzing frantically from flower to flower without picking up much nectar.

Time claims that the interruptions and distractions caused by these new communication methods cost the U.S. economy $588 billion annually. In addition, the temptation to multitask — talking on the cell phone while responding to e-mail, opening a FedEx package and eating lunch at your desk — is causing too many people to look awfully busy while not doing anything very well (Time has a word for this, too — "frazzing").

I can certainly identify with this problem, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Jim H. April 20, 2006, 1:22 pm

    The first time I heard someone say they were multi-tasking was back in 1989. I had a question of a coworker, but he was busy at his terminal. I waited until he turned to me, but instead he kept going and said, “go ahead with your question, I’m multi-tasking.” I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now. I walked away without asking my question.

    I don’t brag about doing it because I don’t believe in it. There are certain tasks I can overlap if it means starting one machine process then doing something else, like downloading, doing the wash, etc. That’s not multitasking, that’s parallel processing. In a human environment it means hiring enough people to do the job. But, most employers, it seems, would rather get a lot of half assed work done than do a good job, completed at a later date. Windows is a good example of a product that was delivered on a short deadline and we’re all wasting time dealing with all of its problems.

    I am a focused person, who turns off the telephone ringer off while I work. If turn the ringer on when I am expecting a call. I do not carry a cell or iPOD into the park when I take a walk. I would rather listen to nature.

    I like to be disconnected and unreachable for periods of the day.

    If I start to work into the evening and find a problem unsolvable, I quit, get a full night’s sleep and the answer often comes to me within minutes or seconds after waking up. Other times answers to difficult problems come to me when I am NOT grinding away making believe I’m working on them. They come to me when I am taking a walk or other times when my mind is free to process them.

    A friend of mine, who multi-tasks thoughts while he’s trying to listen to other people, responds with, uhm…. uhm…. uhm…. uhm…. LITERALLY! That’s because his context switching hasn’t caught up with his task switching.

    Computers that multi-task do a better job than people do. But if you ever worked on a multi-tasking computer system environment such as UNIX, you will notice that it SLOWS DOWN when it is handling more users. It also hands off jobs (delegates) to other devices (I/O blocking, it’s called) so it can work faster. Those other devices are analogous to other employees.

    I consider my stubborn refusal to multi-task or work long long hours for free a badge of honor. I have studied the internals of the UNIX multiprocessing environment and have also read the studies of Dr. David Meyer. He has proven time and again that multi-tasking slows people down and results in poor quality work.
    Go ahead.. Google +multitasking +Meyer

    Multi-tasking, in today’s context, is B.S.!

    You want to get more done? Organize your stuff and prioritize your tasks. The ideal time to switch is when your mind is zoning out from the present task. Also…. sleep more and spend time with your family and/or friends.

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