Stop multitasking: it’s making you high

Jessica Stillman wrote last year on Inc.com that Multitasking Is Making You Stupid. Here’s a fun – albeit disturbing – fact she shared in her article, from David Rock’s 2009 book, Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long.

A study done at the University of London found that constant emailing and text-messaging reduces mental capability by an average of 10 points on an IQ test. It was five points for women, and fifteen points for men. This effect is similar to missing a night's sleep. For men, it’s around three times more than the effect of smoking cannabis. While this fact might make an interesting dinner party topic, it's really not that amusing that one of the most common “productivity tools” can make one as dumb as a stoner.

Think about that the next time you (or a colleague) bring your iPad or iPhone to a meeting. Are your techie devices making you high – reducing your ability to comprehend and contribute?

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When I schedule a session to discuss a process, gather requirements, test functionality, or participate in meetings that require concentration, I ask that everyone deposit their personal technology items in a box. This box is the safe home for phones, tablets, and laptops (and, occasionally, cats). With our devices put away, we can focus on important business matters at hand, avoid beeping distractions, and maintain a normal IQ.

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Give your staff, and yourself, permission to take a technology break! 

photo credits: Pimthida, Torben Bjorn Hansen, and sixpackshack