Multitasking Fallacy

We live in a world where gadgets and gizmos abound, trying to keep our attention spans and organization all at the same time.  We have blackberry and iphone to keep our phone calls and emails all at our fingertips.  We have websites designed to interest and task and all this in the name of keeping our thoughts together.  Has anyone wondered why this is?  Perhaps it’s because we are trying to do too much as people.

A few years ago, I realized I couldn’t multitask very well.  I always thought it was some form of attention deficit, but I instead decided that it was just that I didn’t feel like I was giving my full attention to any one thing, and so each little thing was lacking a little bit.  Of course it made me feel quite inferior, someone as smart as me should be able to compartmentalize my thoughts better and be able to function very well at multitasking.  Well, as it turns out, I was right in my assumptions, but wrong about everyone else.  Most people can’t multitask as well as they think they can.  The few that don’t think they are good multitaskers are the few that realize that they’re just not putting in the right amount of attention to the right things.  This news story about a study at Stanford shows that we’re really not as good as we think at doing multiple things at once.  We can’t focus on driving if we’re on the phone or texting, nor can we focus on any one thing with constant interruptions.  Now the average person has an attention span of about 20 minutes, so sometimes interruptions are useful to refocus, but this sheds new light on this modern world we live in.  We can’t each do it all.

Now the interesting thing about ‘no one person can do it all’ is that we don’t have to have it be that way at DDA.  We have many people wearing different hats as Elizabeth might say.  In order to make the most of the many things that we do, we do compartmentalize.  For example, in any given interactive website we may have 3 to 7 people working on it at once.  One person may be working on design, one on programming, one on the interactive elements, perhaps one on video or site structure, and yet another to build out the static html pages.  No one person has to multitask.  That’s not to say we don’t each have a lot to do, it’s just that we each have our jobs and we get them done quickly and efficiently.  The only one who generally has to multitask is the project coordinator, they have to be aware of where each person/project part is at.  But really, that’s just a single job in itself too.

So the next time someone is offering to build you a website with all the bells and whistles, is it just one person who has to multitask, or is it a company that has several great people who don’t have to multitask.