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Multi-tasking: how to survive in the 21st century

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Answering emails during a meeting. Tweeting a live debate. Multitasking is more tempting than ever because it’s too easy to flip between screens of content.

“What we’re often calling multitasking is in fact internet addiction. It’s a compulsive act, not an act of multitasking.”

Conversely, multitasking sustains creativity. Switching between projects may help you to see how they connect. Multitasking leads to flow which leads to new ideas.

“The act of switching back and forth can grease the wheels of thought.”

Either way, we can hardly remember when our brain is half-engaged. Pro tip: if you’re suffering from the anxiety of unfinished tasks, aka the “Zeigarnik effect,” write them down and come back to them later.

Tim Harford: “Multi-tasking: how to survive in the 21st century”

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The Problem With Multitasking

Today’s machines don’t just allow distraction; they promote it. The Web calls us constantly, like a carnival barker, and the machines, instead of keeping us on task, make it easy to get drawn in—and even add their own distractions to the mix. In short: we have built a generation of “distraction machines” that make great feats of concentrated effort harder instead of easier.

Having a computer in our pocket (our Smartphones) also means we’re a vibrate away from checking when we really don’t need to.