Multitasking

3 April 2011

There is an interesting article over at McKinsey on information overload. But it also talked about the consequences of multitasking.

There is a lot of popular writing about the current generation doing a lot of multitasking. But I wonder where is the evidence that they are any better at it than any other generation.

My sense is that multitasking does not seem to be something one can learn to get better at … there are some cognitive limitations. Perhaps people become more tolerant about it, or perhaps–and perhaps more likely–people who do a lot of multitasking naturally avoid the type of activities that are not amenable to multitasking. In other words, the channel themselves down routes where the negative consequences of multitasking are less important. For example, if multitasking inhibits creativity, is there a tenancy for those who multitask to avoid activities where creativity is important?

I wonder what is the evidence.