We are persuaded that we can do more than one thing at the same time.
And this is true.
We can walk and read the newspaper, listen to music while ironing a shirt, or shave and think about what we are going to do in a while; but we are not so conscious that, in doing two things at the same time, the recall of one of them vanishes: or, at least, becomes weak.
So if you read the newspaper while walking, you will hardly remember the walk; if you iron a shirt and listen to music, you will direct your attention alternately to the shirt or the song, without remembering the details.
Things are not different when we talk about technology and the quality of our work.
When we receive an e-mail, a text message or a phone call, we have to add at least 10-15 minutes in order to “reconnect”.
If the interruption requires a reply to a message, and therefore attention needs to be directed to a different topic, the time for reconnection may double.
Sometimes we may have the illusion of being multitasking because we can switch from one undemanding task to another quite easily, handling them in parallel: but we perform these actions automatically because they require little attention.
Are computers multitasking?
No, neither the computers are; they are programmed to switch from different activities thousands of times per second, giving us only the illusion of managing them simultaneously.
But they are not.
If we want to have a measure of the quality of our time management, we have to calculate the time stolen by continuous interruptions, as listed below:
We can then sum the result obtained in the three previous points assuming, prudently, that the “connect and reconnect” time is not 10-15 minutes (as many researchers claim…) but just a few minutes; let’s say 5.
Did you get a result that surprises you?
You might ask yourself:
Some are blissfully unaware, others knew the situation but prefer to do nothing and continue to think they are productive.
What can we do to make a difference and improve time management?
We can decide to manage technology rather than be managed by it.
Here are some suggestions that may help to improve the quality of your work (and your life…):
And even if the organisation would risk heavily without your involvement, be reassured:
Don’t you think?
If you want to improve your time management the course Time management: define your strategy can prove useful.