Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Myth of Mutitasking

Doing too much often translates into getting little done:
If you think your multitasking skills are improving your productivity, think again. Consistent with other multitasking research, a new working paper (ungated version) by Decio Coviello, Andrea Ichino and Nicola Persico analyzes a sample of Italian judges with different caseloads and finds that “task juggling, i.e., the spreading of effort across too many active projects, decreases the performance of workers, raising the chances of low throughput, long duration of projects and exploding backlogs.” The authors highlight the role of work scheduling in employee productivity, writing that “[i]ndividual speed of job completion cannot be explained only in terms of effort, ability and experience: work scheduling is a crucial ‘input’ that cannot be omitted from the production function of individual workers.”

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I think it's a inverse U-shaped curve. Especially in light of what we were discussing last week, re: research projects, it seems to me that for academics, it's good to have many projects. After some threshold though, I'm sure even academics get spread too thin. And, I'm sure the threshold is different for each person.

Having just one project can be depressing when that one project hits major obstacles. Having three seems to be too much for me at the moment, but it is definitely superior to having just one.