Multi-tasking question 10:26 on Monday

Monday morning at Pussel

I want to start this beautiful and sunny Monday with a question: Why is multi-tasking good for the user?

  • on computers?
  • on mobiles?

If you have two minutes, please leave your ideas in the comments.

10 Responses to “Multi-tasking question”


  1. Sami Linnanvuo Says:

    Because otherwise our attention-deficit brains would get bored when using them (for the proof, just count the number of open tabs in your browser). More seriously though, multitasking in mobiles enables me to:

    • listen to music and check my calendar at the same time
    • browse the web and find a needed piece of information from messages, notes, to-dos etc. without closing the browser.
    • run a bluetooth enabled app (such as botspot) on the background just to satisfy the geek-in-me.
    • open a beer bottle with the device while sending a text message.

    I think that the lack of proper multitasking in S40 is a major drawback compared to S60.

  2. hlehto Says:

    So you assume it’s good? At least in my case it’s not good for productivity, because I lose your focus and get distracted. Multitasking is more fun, though. So, I multitask at my home computer (currently reading this and starting up a poker client under Parallels) and try not to multitask at work. Easier said than done.

  3. Niko Says:

    I realized my question was too wide open for interpretation, and our debate with Mikko at the office this morning made it even more clear to me.

    But music in the background is the kind of example I was looking for — a music player is not a faceless background process, yet it can be in constant use and need interaction every now and then while using some other app. Thanks.

  4. helppo Says:

    Hey Niko!

    Do some multitasking with your blog! We need new entries to browse through… Otherwise we are stuck at work doing “important” work and can’t multitask with ze Internet!

  5. Niko Says:

    :D I will, after I finish two projects by Sunday.

  6. Niko Says:

    I do have great ideas for posts like, “A hundred ways to loathe MS Word” (which, in tandem with some friendly shareware, filled my laptop with 20GB of “work files”, as I found out this morning).

    But I guess I’ll keep shut until something more.. thoughtful comes along.

  7. Sami Salmenkivi Says:

    I’m doing serious multitasking if counting open browser tabs is the benchmark. ;)

    The downsides: Getting confused a lot of times and re-orientering takes valuable time. I’m also having hard time allocating my hours to projects, since some of my work is billable per hour, and I seldom work on a case full hours (excluding meetings). More like 7 minutes on one, then read something for an other project for 18 min, and then do something for 0,5 hour. In between I wrote this post 3 min…

    Upsides: With two monitors I’m actually able to have lots of things open at the same time and nerd my way around lots of things.

    Would I accomplish more if I only had one thing going at a time — dont know?

  8. Niko Says:

    For the past two days I’ve been doing two projects simultaneously, switching from one to another every 20 minutes or so. Not by choice, mind you! I’m sure I would have been much more productive if I had been able to work on one project at a time, but now that I had to work on two it was quite painless thanks to being able to keep both projects’ files open at the same time and switch at need.

  9. ville Says:

    In a multi-tasking world, people can do things on their own time, not on the time of others or the technology. Problem is that this requires people to make strong decisions on how they invest their time. And these decisions of focusing on something require a strong mind which has to be trained. Or strong values.

    In a world which is by its nature out-of-place and out-of-time, ie. dislocated and asynchronous, multi-tasking is an evolutionary survival step. It makes people more competitive. And it is not a question of productivity but of keeping up with the world that suddenly has a larger reach than before – including oneself.

  10. Aleksi Aaltonen Says:

    I don’t have any kind of comprehensive opinion about multitasking though it is indeed interesting phenomenon. Here are

    1. Mere switching between the tasks introduces a sort of overhead (Mikko points this out nicely). Economists call might call these a particular type of transaction costs.

    2. Multitasking is hardly a new phenomenon though computerized environment have made it more visible and pervasive. For instance, throughout the modern era housewives have been multitasking between various housekeeping and child-rearing tasks at home.

    3. The impact on productivity depends to a large extent on what kind of work you are trying to accomplish. Working both in fast-paces business environment and in more slow moving academic context I find it personally most challenging to be able to switch between different ways of working and being as needed.