An article in last Sunday’s paper convicted me. According to an article from the New York Times, many research reports “provide evidence of the limits of multitasking. The findings, say neuroscientists, psychologists, and management professors, suggest that many people would be wise to curb their multitasking behavior when working in an office, studying, or driving a car.”

Well, duh. Didn’t we all know that?

The experts say we should check email only once an hour (I have mine set to check every five minutes), listening to soothing background (not music with lyrics), and don’t watch TV.

They go on with a lot of fiddle faddle about neurons and the limitations of the human brain, but there’s nothing new here. Didn’t your mother always tell you to turn off the TV while you were doing your homework? Isn’t that what you tell your kids?

Yet we don’t practice what we preach. In another study, a group of workers at Microsoft took an average of 15 minutes to return to their tasks after stopping to respond to incoming email. They strayed off to reply to other messages or to browse web sites.

Well, of course they did.

Hmm. Now that I’m looking at a rapidly-approaching deadline, maybe I will adjust my email collection to every hour. Or just steel myself not to look at it except at preassigned times.

Easier said than done.



  1. Aunt Rene

    Angie, you should try what your Mother and I do and only check email every other day.

  2. Dana

    I’ll tell you something I did that helped me tremendously. If I get a new email in I just HAVE to look at it. So I took off the indications on my desktop that I have a new message. No dialogue box, no ‘ding’, no little envelope on the toolbar. Nothing. That forced me to physically stop what I was doing and check the email. Otherwise I would get an email in that I just HAD to look at. Then I’d read it and just HAVE to respond. And sometimes I just HAD to stop what I was doing to fulfill that email’s request. It caused me to be very inefficient. So the change did me a world of good!

  3. Catherine

    Right now I am working with several other women on a speech and debate tournament for our young adults. We are emailing back and forth as opposed to phone calls when we do make calls sometimes they last a lot longer. So for now maybe I could check every half hour. If it is really urgent they’ll call.
    Yes. I am addicted to checking email but when I go to a tournament I only randomly check it, sometimes not at all. The average tournament last 3 days.


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