PaintSquare.com
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site

 

Advertisement

PaintSquare


PAINTSQUARE BLOG

Comment |

Dangers of the Daily Juggling Act

THURSDAY, MARCH 28, 2013

By Karen Kapsanis


More items for Quality Control

I have been trying to write this little essay for weeks, but I keep getting interrupted—by emails beeping, phones ringing, texts boinging, multiple projects (often with the same deadline) closing in, unexpected problems or requests that seem simple to resolve but end up consuming hours ….

I’m guessing that you get my drift, even though I’m an editor and you are in other businesses. I bet your work days have a similar structure—or lack thereof, sometimes, because of so many demands on you, anticipated or not, that make you shift your focus repeatedly.

‘Must Be Able to…’

In fact, some days remind me of part of a job description for a position I once had far away from publishing and long before digital equipment came along to make our work … easier. The description included these somewhat-unnerving words: “must be able to work with constant interruption.”

Today, that would be rewritten as “must be able to multitask.”

buzzaboutscience.com
buzzaboutscience.com
The dangers of distraction have become a topic of growing research.


“Constant interruption” is a decidedly negative phrase—a warning, even, that there would be intrusions that I would need to manage while still doing my “real” job accurately and efficiently.
 
In contrast, from what I can tell, “multitasking” is generally regarded as a virtue, a skill, a desirable ability. But I find the word annoying. It seems to whitewash the potential danger of, well, constant interruption—a break in concentration while trying to do too many things at once.

Distraction’s Dark Side

And that break in concentration can lead to all kinds of mistakes. There are, for example, traffic accidents while driving and talking (even “hands-free”) or misunderstandings in a meeting because most people at the table are checking their smartphones or tablets. (I once saw a Cabinet member scrolling through email or texts on a smart phone while testifying before a Congressional committee.)

Who knows whether or not multitasking contributes to worksite injuries and fatalities, including those on painting worksites?

columbia.edu
columbia.edu
Where’s the line between multitasking and constant interruption?


Now, I know that as companies reduce the number of workers, the ones who are lucky enough to have jobs do take on extra responsibilities. So multitasking isn’t all about interruption. It’s about efficiency and productivity and staying employed and paying the bills.

And I can’t honestly claim that “constant interruption” and “multitasking” are identical. There is more of the unexpected implicit in “constant interruption” and more of the planned or assigned built into “multitasking.”

So, good time management and project planning can alleviate some of the adverse effects of multitasking.

Time for a Test?

There are even tests (developed through what appears to be legitimate research) that evaluate how well you multitask—how productively, how quickly, and how successfully you change from task to task. (See, for example, Test How Fast You Juggle Tasks.)
 
Heavy multitaskers, according to the tests above, tend to need more time to change tasks (even when switching to the same kind of task) than those who are considered light multitaskers.

Eyal Ophir and Clifford Nass, Stanford University / nytimes.com
Eyal Ophir and Clifford Nass, Stanford University / nytimes.com
How good are you at multitasking? Tests can help you evaluate.


And again, not surprisingly, there are reportedly techniques for improving your ability to multitask. (Read, for example, Training can improve multitasking ability.)

Regardless of how much we improve our ability to multitask, I suspect that there will always be a cost to changing focus frequently—on the job or off—whether the price is lower productivity, miscommunication, injury, or something else.

Then the issue changes from how well you multitask to what your multitasking costs you, your company, and your family.

Which raises the question: When is that cost too high?

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Karen Kapsanis

Karen Kapsanis was the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings when these blogs were written. Post-JPCL, Karen remains an inexplicably lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers and a surprisingly speedy sprinter.

SEE ALL CONTENT FROM THIS CONTRIUBTOR

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Health and safety; Information technology; Painters; Painting Contractor; Workers

Comment from Anna Jolly, (3/29/2013, 9:15 AM)

I really like this! It is so true!


Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Advertisements
 
DeFelsko Corporation
 
PosiTector SST Soluble Salt Tester
 
Measures the concentration of soluble salts on metal surfaces. Use with all Bresle patch types including the reusable, adhesive-free PosiPatch.
 

 
KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office
 
KTA-TATOR LABORATORY SERVICES
 
• Coating failure analysis
• Independent testing
• Accelerated weathering testing
• Abrasives Testing
• Oil & Gas Material Qualification
• A2LA Accredited
Contact: Rob Leggat at
412-788-1300 x180
 

 
Strategic Materials Inc.
 
Crushed Glass Abrasives
 
TruAbrasives™, a clean crushed glass abrasive superior to other abrasives for performance, health, and environmental benefits.
 

 
Industrial Vacuum Equipment Corp.
 
Hurricane Vacuums
& Dust Collectors
 
Vacuum and dust collector hose, filters and related accessories.
IndustrialVacuum.com
 

 
Fischer Technology Inc.
 
DUALSCOPE®FMP100 with DataCenter IP
 
Transfer customized inspection plans from PC to FMP100 using step-by-step guidance with prompts and pictures throughout the measurement procedure
 

 
HoldTight Solutions Inc.
 
NO FLASH RUST - NO CONTAMINANTS
 
Our HoldTight®102 salt remover & flash rust
preventer prevents flash
rust by removing surface contaminants. Contact us
for your nearest distributor.
(800) 319.8802 sales@holdtight.com
 

 
Detail Masters
 
Overspray Removal
 
We offer professional, turnkey service and unparalleled quality!
Our process can save hundreds— even thousands of dollars. It's fast, environmentally safe and 100% guaranteed.
 

 
Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
 
Blastox® - One Step Lead Abatement
 
Sandblast additive delivered to jobsite pre-blended to eliminate hazardous abrasive wastes. Why mix, meter or apply at the job-site? Blast with ease and
Let your painters paint!
1(800)-252-7869
 

 
Novatek Corporation
 
Novatek Corporation, Dustless Coatings Removal
 
Strip, clean and profile all dust free! Comply with new lead standards. Contact today: (866) 563-7800
 

 
BASF
 
New resins from BASF will have metals loving water!
 
Excellent corrosion resistance, low VOC, high gloss, thin films www.basf.us/industrialcoatings dpsolutions@basf.com 800-231-7868
 

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us