THE DANGERS OF MULTITASKING:
But despite what many of us think, you cannot simultaneously e-mail and talk on the phone. I think weâ€™re all familiar with what Dr. Hallowell calls â€œe-mail voice,â€ when someone youâ€™re talking to on the phone suddenly sounds, well, disengaged.
â€œYou cannot divide your attention like that,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a big illusion. You can shift back and forth.â€ . . .
A 2005 study, â€œNo Task Left Behind? Examining the Nature of Fragmented Work,â€ found that people were interrupted and moved from one project to another about every 11 minutes. And each time, it took about 25 minutes to circle back to that same project.
Interestingly, a study published last April, â€œThe Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress,â€ found that â€œpeople actually worked faster in conditions where they were interrupted, but they produced less,â€ said Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California at Irvine and a co-author of both studies. And she also found that people were as likely to self-interrupt as to be interrupted by someone else.
I actually do my intense writing — books, law reviews, etc. — in a different room and on a different computer, with the email turned off. It helps. Some. On the other hand, blogging and column-writing seem to thrive on an environment where there’s more going on, like coffee shops or bars. Not sure why.