You’ve no doubt already heard how multitasking reduces worker productivity. But there’s a new study out that really makes the point.

RescueTime, a maker of productivity software, tracked several thousand users’ daily computer activities while at work.

The study extracted two individuals as typical users – one who switched computer activities moderately often and one who was switching all the time.

Switching hurt productivity
The results couldn’t have been starker: Worker 1 switched 277 times on a given day – November 7, 2012 – and used fully 85% of her time productively. (Productive time included writing, design, product development, reference and learning.)

Meanwhile, Worker 2, on the same day, made 496 switches from one activity to another, and managed only 33% productive time. Much of the unproductive time was spent on music, video games and social networking.

Obviously Worker 2 also needed a reminder about appropriate vs. inappropriate uses of his work computer.

But it’s clear that the more employees shift from one activity to another, the less – not the more – they accomplish.


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