Technology and Multitasking

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The rate at which we adopt technology seems to increase exponentially as new technology emerges. While most of the new gadgets out in the market have the potential of increasing productivity at work, allowing us to keep in touch with friends and family and saving time to do the things we want to do, the careless use of this new technology can create a false feeling of accomplishment.

While there is a lot of focus to increase the awareness of the dangers of texting or talking on the phone while driving, we seem to be paying little attention to the effects of how we use the newly available technology during other ordinary daily activities. We can be checking email while attending a conference or class, answering a text, or a phone call in the middle of a conversation with someone else, looking at the GPS instead of the signs on the road. Sometimes we seem to arrange our priorities to favor the latest gadget instead of the more important task at hand. There is overwhelming evidence from scientific studies that we are not really capable of multitasking. What we have is the ability to switch between activities fairly quickly. It takes us time to switch between activities and to reach a level of concentration on any given task and as the number of activities enabled by new technology increase, we find ourselves switching between tasks more frequently than ever before. At any given period of time, we can complete one task well or we can work on several things and not finish any one of them. It is important to differentiate when the use of technology is helping us accomplish a task, and when it becomes a distraction. Having a predetermined set of priorities on the use of technology can help us do that. Don’t just simply allow the latest gadget to get the highest priority.

All the new technology available to us now can be used to increase our productivity, keep in touch with people and get information quickly but when not used properly, it can make us miss an important conversation, an important moment, or even be dangerous. So, the next time you reach to answer that phone call or switch to the latest email, think about what you are doing.