Multitasking and Software Development

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Three articles that I came upon recently seem related, although they stem from unconnected sources. The first is the Stanford study which shows that multitaskers not only don’t do individual tasks very well but actually multitask more poorly than non-multitaskers do, and that they don’t realize it, either. The second is a very well-written article by Paul Graham about the difference between Maker’s and Manager’s schedules. Of course, both provide examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

It’s something that’s been bothering me a lot lately, because I’m beginning to suffer from effects of the first two, and I’m afraid that it will lead to the third. In my job, I’ve increasingly been forced to multitask as my job duties have been changing. This is learned behavior, in my case at least, due to Manager’s Meeting schedules, interruptions, the need to respond timely to email, and having to juggle multiple responsibilities. This has had a very definite affect on my programming ability. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this, yet, but it has me concerned.

Copyright © Sean Elliott Russell

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