Where has my attention gone? How many of you have just checked Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or an email account? Many social networking activities are anything but social.
Technology is only useful if you are the master of it and not a slave to the ping of an incoming email with a conditioned reflex like one of Pavlov’s dogs. How successful would an elite athlete be if they responded to everything and not what is the most important? Essentially if you control you attention you control your life.
Amarach research has found that about three in 10 mobile phones users in Ireland now have smart phones, and expects that these devices may overtake regular phones by next year. People with smart phones often highlight that the enhanced technology contained within them allows them to be able to multitask a lot more. The inference is that it is desirable to be able to multitask. It is however not as productive as you might think. As Switching Time is the time it takes the brain to switch from one activity to another which research shows results in taking us an extra 25% longer to complete any given task.
David Meyer head of the Brain Cognition, and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan questions the value of trying to get better at multitasking. ‘Training can help overcome some of the inefficiencies by giving you more optimal strategies for multitasking,’ he says. ‘Except in rare circumstances, you can train until you’re blue in the face and you’ll never be as good as if you just focused on one thing at a time. Period. That’s the bottom line.”
So it appears we could all learn a thing or two from Fireman Sam (whom I watch regularly with my two and half you old daughter) who states ‘do one thing at a time’.