I enjoyed Cathy Davidson’s HBR podcast on the dangers of mono-tasking while driving in on Monday. During the opening, she covers tests where airline pilots running simulators in extreme conditions were so focused on the task at hand (landing the plane by paying attention to the instruments) that they ignore big items – such as putting another airliner in the runway (they often hit it), hence the point – dangers of monotasking.
At the 9 minute mark Ms. Davidson suggests that multi-tasking (or switching tasks) is critical, a point I tend to agree with. People who take a break in-between tasks will be much more productive through the day, as they alleviate boredom, change it up or as she says “Take time to give the brain a glass of water”. This switch can be accomplished by a different conversation, reading an article or by doing a different task.
The debate on multi-tasking will continue to rage, but it was a refreshingly different perspective. Also a good reminder that when deep in a task or project, taking a step back will not only refresh but allow you to acquire a bigger picture and avoid ‘that big parked plane’.