Sunday, January 09, 2005

Multitasking and (Lack of) Productivity

I thought I was going to make good use of my time when Winter Storm Allen caused me to take the day off from work last Thursday, but the time was not productive because I allowed my attention to be split between two tasks, each of which needed nearly all of my attention to do properly. One task was studying for my final exam in Computer Organization. The other task was installing MacroMedia Dreamweaver on Sandy's computer. The installation of Dreamweaver was not going well. It did not automatically add anything to the Start Menu and did not put an icon on the desktop. So, I copied the Dreamweaver icon to the desktop. However, everytime I clicked the desktop icon, the program would not start and one of those notoriously unhelpful dialog boxes popped up that just had a button that said OK to click on, which immediately shut down the program. Rather than focus my attention on solving the problem, I tried to study for my exam. Meanwhile, Sandy made several phone calls to JourneyEd, where she bought the software, and MacroMedia, trying to get someone to give her a refund for software that either didn't work or was misrepresented. I got very little studying done because of the emotion and the phone calls. I solved the problem with just a few minutes of my complete attention the next morning shortly after I woke up. I had uninstalled and reinstalled Dreamweaver several times, but the problem turned out to be that the desktop shortcut was what was faulty. The program itself is just fine and Sandy is happy with it.

The lesson from this experience hit home yesterday evening after I took my final exam and Sandy and I were shopping at Wal-Mart. I was browsing the magazine rack and saw on the cover of Scientific American "Mind" a blurb about an article about why multitasking is usually not productive. From this experience, I can say that it is worse than unproductive; it is stressful and unproductive.

By the way, I think I did well on the final exam, so despite the day being wasted, both of the things I tried to do Thursday eventually got done and turned out well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, which means that I must approved them before they are posted. Although I intend to approve nearly all comments, I reserve the right not to approve any that are obscene, disrespectful, or try to exploit this site for other purposes.