Future Generali

Is multitasking a good idea?


Rakesh Wadhwa:

What about the times when you have to multitask? Can multitasking and remaining in distractible coexist?


Nir Eyal:

Multitasking interesting topic because the orthodoxy says that you can't multitask. Right. We've all heard this a million times. You can't multitask. So don't even try. That's not actually quite. Obviously we can multitask. We do multiple things all the time. Have you ever driven your car, had a conversation with the person next to you?  Have you ever taken a walk while making a phone call? Of course you can do multiple things at a time who says you can't multitask. That's stupid. What you can't do is you can't input information on one channel at the same time. So for example, you can't listen to a podcast in one ear and a different podcast and the other, you can't solve two math problems at the same time. You can't watch two television shows at the same time, because they're both using the same input channel. Either sight sound. When you use the same channel at the same time, it doesn't work, but what you can do, and what's an amazing time saving technique is called multichannel multitasking. And so what I do is I have certain practices, certain rules about how I consume media and I use what's called temptation bundling temptation bundling. Is this idea that you can take one thing that you don't really like doing. And you can bundle it with something, you do enjoy doing it to make it more likely for you to do that thing that you don't really enjoy. And so here's how it works. I used to be clinically obese and I've always hated exercise for as long as I can remember. I just don't like exercise. But now for the first time in my life, I exercise consistently every time I say I will. And one of the ways that I make it sweeter, that I make you get a practice I enjoy is that my practice is that I'm only allowed to consume content while I'm exercising.

So another problem I used to have was that when I was online, I had seen an article on the news and I'd say, Oh, let me just read that real quick. And then of course, where this is going to lead. It leads to another article and another article because every media company out there, they want to suck you in, right? Whether it's the New York times or the times of India, everybody wants your time and attention, they design those headlines as clickbait. They want you to keep reading. They don't care how much time you have. They want all of it. And so I don't do that anymore. As a rule, when I see an article online, I save it. I never read articles on my web browser. I only read them inside an app called pocket. It's a great app. It's free. What pocket does it digests that article and even will read it to you. It has this beautiful text to speech functionality.

And so I'll listen to articles that I would have otherwise wasted time on every time I exercise. And so that's a wonderful example of multichannel multitask.

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