Monday, February 12, 2018

Human multi-tasking..

Multi-tasking, efficient ??
Human multitasking is an apparent human ability to perform more than one task, or activity, over a short period (1 hour). - wikipedia.org

An example of multi tasking is attending to a telephone call and at the same time trying to type a letter. The problem with such activities is that we often fail to do our best in each.

There are some questions being asked on the efficacy of multi-tasking. They are : 
1. Do lean systems advocate multi-tasking or single tasking ? 
2. Is multi-tasking effective in the long run ?
3. Are people who resort to multi-tasking more efficient than others ?
4. Does multi-tasking lead to better or worse output and quality ?

Though it is difficult to get answer to all of these questions through a classroom experiment, we can try to find whether multi-tasking does lead to longer processing times than single tasking. If indeed multi-tasking does take more time to complete tasks, what is the approximate percentage of this increase ?

Let us take this example of multi-tasking. Take an A4 page, tear it into two equal halves, A5. 

To illustrate the waste of time in a multi-tasking environment as against an environment with no task sharing, let us play a simple game. On one paper, write these four exercises one after the other. 
A. Start the stop watch 
1. On the top left corner, name it A, write the digit 1 in words, One
2. Turn to bottom right, bring it to top left, name it B, and write Roman numeral of 1.
3. Turn the paper to the other side, behind the A side, write C and make one hash mark
4. Turn to the bottom right, bring it to top left, mark it D and draw a small five cornered star.
5. Repeat this for digit 2 on edge A, Roman numerals II on edge B, two hash marks on edge C and two star marks on edge D.
6. Repeat this till numerical 10. 
Stop the Stop Watch .   This is multi-tasking. Note the timing in seconds.
Take the other half fresh A5 sheet. 

Now do each of the activities independently, (SINGLE TASKING). Finish each task completely, before going to the next task.
B. Start the stop watch 
1. finish writing the digits 1 to 10 in words on edge A
2. Go to edge B, write Roman numerals of numbers one to ten
3. Turn around, go to edge C, do hashes, progressively from one to 10 and
4. go to edge D, draw small five edge stars progressively from one to ten.
Stop the Stop Watch .        Note the timing in seconds 
Improvement in % = (multi-tasking time - single-tasking time) / multi-tasking time x 100% To be more exact, the experiment could be repeated three to four times and an average value taken.
Exercises :  
1. Write down your observation in two or three sentences..
2. Find the average percentage improvement in time moving from multitasking to single tasking.
3. Is single tasking tasking efficient than multi-tasking, all the time ?? Comment ..
I was surprised to find in the class an average improvement of time by at least 25% and a maximum improvement of upto 45% .
Learning :  
1. Single tasking any time is better than multi-tasking especially if the job is repetitive and time consuming.
2. When there are many jobs to be carried out, it is always better to complete them as single tasks than to attempt to complete them by multiple tasking. This improves quality of the output, reducing the time spent on rework or defects.
3. Multi-tasking is tiring and unless very carefully done, can cause errors in the job, resulting in poor quality and high rework or error correction costs.

Click here for a Forbes article on why single-tasking makes one smarter ..

george ..

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