After writing a couple of posts about multitasking, I’m curious about something: how good are you at multitasking? Which is to say, how good do you think you are at multitasking? And what kinds of things to you multitask at?
The reason I’m curious is because I feel like I’m sort of on the extreme non-multitasking end of the spectrum. I’m as good as the next guy at juggling a long task list (at least, I was back when I had a job where I had a long task list), but that didn’t mean I multitasked. I was just fairly diligent about spending time on things I had to get done. And of course, I fiddle around checking email or looking at my Twitter feed as much as anyone.
But I can’t multitask at all. For example, I can’t listen to music and write at the same time. It’s too distracting. I don’t comment on TV news much because I don’t watch TV news. Partly that’s because TV news rots your brain, but mostly it’s because I can’t write while the TV is on in the background. Too distracting. And when I write long form pieces for the magazine, I work on them almost exclusively on weekends. I just can’t task switch effectively between blogging and article writing during the day.
Of course, this is only true for cognitive tasks. Like anyone, I can work out and watch TV at the same time, or carry on a conversation while I’m cooking dinner. That’s multitasking, I guess, but it’s not really cognitive multitasking.
So what about you? What kinds of things do you feel like you can multitask? What kinds of things demand quiet time? And how confident are you that when you multitask, you’re doing it effectively?