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“Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes,” said David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist and director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”
I’ve long believed this to be true and have tried in vein to dispel this myth amongst my friends, colleagues, and my Blackberry-addicted, always-on/always-connected boss. As I type this blog post on a dual-monitor computer, with Microsoft Outlook open to check my work e-mail, Yahoo mail open to check my personal e-mail, talk radio streaming through my laptop’s speakers, and a half-eaten sandwich on my desk, it’s evident that the multitasking myth has pervaded the workplace. Sound familiar?
How about this: sitting in your living room with the TV on for background noise; your laptop open to alert you of any incoming e-mails; cell phone in your pocket just in case; reading a book; and occasionally contributing to the odd, terse conversation with your significant other? I know I’m guilty of not practicing what I preach.
Multitasking pervades every aspect of life I can imagine. Tim notes that travel is certainly no exception:
If you’re trying to get the most out of your travel experience, carrying around a laptop, a cell phone, and a GPS receiver is going to make you much less aware of what’s really going on around you. Walking around some 8th-century ruins with white earplugs cranking music is akin to reading a book while watching TV: you’re only half concentrating on both.
Amen, Tim. Technology affords us great luxury and convenience, but the passive entertainment that a laptop, iPod, etc. can provide should not replace or even supplement many of the once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences we’d otherwise be foregoing.
Ironically, I believe my entire trip will find me more connected in the ways that matter – making new friends, exploring new cultures, sampling new foods – by disconnecting me in the ways that don’t.