You’re not multitasking, you’re ignoring something

Recently I’ve had the misfortune of arranging to meet someone to talk only to leave feeling the conversation was a waste of time. I didn’t get the information I needed and I certainly didn’t get my thoughts across.

How did this happen? The person I was meeting thought they could multitask. They were responding to emails or other conversations while we were “talking”.

The thing about multitasking is that it is just an illusion. Humans can’t multitask, it isn’t how our brains work. The best we can do is context switch quickly from task to task and quickly in this context means a few minutes. That isn’t quickly enough to engage in more than one conversation at a time.

So next time you think you are multitasking stop and ask yourself, which task are you really engaging with and which has got the short straw? Next time you find yourself trying to talk to someone who isn’t quite focused suggest that they switch off the email alerts or take the conversation somewhere with fewer distractions. Apart from anything else it’s simple good manners.

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