The tale of multitasking: why only dragons have three heads


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Text comes from: Bin ich hier der Depp? Wie Sie dem Arbeitswahn nicht länger zur Verfügung stehen (2013) by Martin Wehrle, published by Mosaik Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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"If you no longer know where your head is, you might have already lost it," says aphorist Rupert Schützbach. This is the mockery of multitasking: while it gives the impression of making people more effective, it costs effectiveness and conjures up mistakes. golden dragon

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Martin Wehrle wehrle Martin Wehrle is a best-selling author as well as Germany's best-known career and salary coaching.

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Shout or shake your head?

Anyone who reads the study on the subject could - headword multitasking - shout at the same time, shake their heads, curse and scare the preachers of multitasking out of their churches.

The computer scientist Gloria Mark from the University of California has recorded the workflows of 700 people over 24 working hours: seven managers, eight programmers and nine analysts. Every step, every manipulation, every disturbance and interruption she drew on the seconds.

25 minutes until reentry

Shocking was not only that an employee is interrupted on average every eleven minutes. What was shocking was what happened afterwards: It took 25 minutes before he resumed the thread of his original activity!

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And then the questioning started:

  • But where had he stopped?
  • What were the details?
  • What was the approach to the solution?

Attention work interruption

It took him eight minutes to get back into the process, and three more until he was pulled out again. Three minutes! In a time that is barely enough to cook a cup of coffee, the heroes of the modern working world are to solve complex problems.

May it be surprising that there are always ruinous mistakes, such as those who have plunged us into the banking crisis?

Multitaskers act like drowning people

Especially since the employees have to formally tear themselves: Twelve separate tasks each of the workers observed by Gloria Mark had to do. People behave like drowning people: when they realize that they can not do it, they are struggling more and more violently.

They fall into actionism and repeat what has not worked, instead of trying out what might work; they are drowned in labor.

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A phone call lowers attention by 40 percent

Researchers at the US University of Utah have demonstrated in a driving simulator that even a telephone call during driving reduces the concentration by at least 40 percent. The callers committed so many driving errors as drunks. Why should a stockbroker who makes a phone call for a share trader be less drunk?

The price for this madness is high, not only health. In the US, 28 billions of hours of work per year go up in smoke because employees are interrupted. This fun costs 588 billion dollars. For Germany, as a precaution, no one has charged these figures. Or is he still on the rise, but because of sheer multitasking came to no result?


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  1. msmagazin

    Martin Werle on multitasking: Why only dragons have three heads

  2. FeScho

    RT @SimoneJanson: The Story of Multitasking - Teil2: Why only dragons have three heads

  3. Simone Janson (SimoneJanson)

    The Mart of Multitasking - Part 2: Why only dragons have three heads

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