March 23, 2006

Divided attention

Writing about web page

I enjoyed, and yet simultaneously felt bad about, this essay on the evils of divided attention:-

There isnít a single great work in the history of civilization, no novel, symphony, film, or song that was completed as a 1/5th time-slice between e-mail, IM, cellphones and television.

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. There’s lots of truth in that. My desktop currently features a partially completed project in Word, several pdfs, an episode of Seinfeld in media player and about 10 tabs open in Opera. Output so far today has been nil.

    If the brain was a CPU, then allocating short time slots to different projects would be fine. But in practice, there’s a cost of switching. If the projects are v. different in nature, it’ll take time for different part of the brain to get engaged. And it takes time to retrieve certain bits of information from memory. As the article said, excessive multitasking doesn’t let you see the value + detail in any given project and probably reduces overall quality.

    23 Mar 2006, 13:51

  2. When you are writing that essay that you've had for 3 weeks, ever tried just turning off MSN + Googletalk? You write about 10x faster. Fact.

    23 Mar 2006, 15:11

  3. Better still, physically unplug your computer from the Internet, switch your phone off and unless you're actually typing (rather than reading or thinking) then switch the whole damn machine off.

    23 Mar 2006, 16:44

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