Think you can juggle phone calls, e-mail, instant messages and computer work to get more done in a time-starved world?
Several research reports, both recently published and not yet published, provide evidence of the limits of multitasking. The findings, according to neuroscientists, psychologists and management professors, suggest that many people would be wise to curb their multitasking behavior when working in an office, studying or driving a car.
These experts have some basic advice. Check e-mail messages once an hour, at most. Listening to soothing background music while studying may improve concentration. But other distractions – most songs with lyrics, instant messaging, television shows – hamper performance. Driving while talking on a cellphone, even with a hands-free headset, is a bad idea.
In short, the answer appears to lie in managing the technology, instead of merely yielding to its incessant tug.
Photo by Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times.