Multitasking inefficient?

— 12:28 PM on August 8, 2001

There's an interesting bit over at Ars Technica on a CNN story which suggests that multitasking might be inefficient. The fact that I'm sitting here with two email clients open, two IM clients, several open browser windows, Winamp playing a CD, all while testing a web app, piqued my interest in this intriguing assertion. This is nothing compared to what I run at home, where I take full advantage of being able to do a ridiculous number of tasks at once with SMP and Win2k. I'd like to think I'm more efficient, but maybe not.

"In effect," says Meyer, "you've got writer's block briefly as you go from one task to another. You've got to (a) want to switch tasks, you've got to (b) make the switch and then you've got to (c) get warmed back up on what you're doing.
Everyone's different, of course. I like to work with music, and find that I'm actually more productive with even vocal tracks playing in the background. Furthermore, I enjoy the little breaks from work that an IM conversation or two can provide. Without them, I find myself slowing down and growing bored of what I'm doing. Though maybe that's because the testing I'm doing right now is excessively boring.

Do you think you're better off multitasking in general? At what point, for you, does doing multiple tasks become counter-productive?

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