The Illusion of Multitasking

• “Multi-taskers often think they are like gym rats, bulking up their ability to juggle tasks, when in fact they are like alcoholics, degrading their abilities through over-consumption.” —Clay Shirky

• “Fucking two things up at the same time isn't multitasking” —Dick Masterson

• “The heaviest multitaskers — those who invariably said they could focus like laser beams whenever they wanted — were terrible at various cognitive chores such as organizing information, switching between tasks and discerning significance.” —Clifford Nass, Stanford Univ.

New Yorker image

New Yorker image

• (Multitaskers are) “suckers for irrelevancy. Everything distracts them. They’re living and writing in a staccato world.” —Clifford Nass

• “We could essentially be undermining the thinking ability of our society. We could essentially be dumbing down the world.” —Clifford Nass

• (Researchers) “demonstrated that drivers using cell phones—even hands-free devices—were at just as high a risk of accidents as intoxicated ones.” —Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker

• “There is a tiny but persistent subset of the population—about two per cent—whose performance does not deteriorate, and can even improve, when multiple demands are placed on their attention. The supertaskers are true outliers.” —David Strayer paraphrased by Maria Konnilova

• "The flip side, of course, is that, for the ninety-seven and a half per cent of us who don’t share the requisite genetic predisposition, no amount of practice will make us into supertasking stars." —David Strayer paraphrased by Maria Konnilova

• "I can't do anything at once." —R. Chimes

• “Juggling is an illusion. ... In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. ... It is actually task switching.” —Gary Keller

• “When we think we're multitasking we're actually multiswitching. That is what the brain is very good at doing - quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we're being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we're simply giving ourselves extra work.” —Michael Harris

• “Do three things well, not ten things badly.” —David Segrove

• Above: Typical corporate overachiever in full multitasking mode Art by Heroes of Might and Magic V

• Above: Typical corporate overachiever in full multitasking mode

Art by Heroes of Might and Magic V