March 30, 2016

Think you are good at multi-tasking? Think again.

News Special Project

Stop me if you have heard this before: “I am an awesome multi-tasker. I can chat, listen to the speaker and even take notes at the same time!”

Chances are you have either uttered it or heard it from a friend or coworker. Regardless of the person speaking it, the real question is — Do you believe it?

It’s OK to be honest. Unfortunately, if you said YES to either of the buckets, you are mistaken.

Now you don’t have to take my word for it: Kaspersky Lab has conducted research to check how much modern people depend on their devices.

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In 2015, Kaspersky Lab approached this question the other way round and found out that many of us heavily rely on their smartphones and trust them even the most important memories. The loss of their device would be crucial for these people. This phenomenon was called Digital Amnesia.

So how is your or your colleagues’ boasting connected with smartphones and multi-tasking, you ask?

The study showed that 44% of business people readily admit that they take notes digitally while in meetings. The tradeoff is that they will miss valuable contextual, emotional or behavioral cues tied to what is being said. However, the former is often vital to truly understanding the messaging of what is said, which is essential to remembering it.

On top of that, 13 percent of the people surveyed confess that if they lose their digital records, they would be lost.

“Human memory is limited. The disadvantage with simply listening, and relying on memory, is that transferring something from short term ‘working memory’ to long-term memory is difficult and success depends on how well we understand the topic being discussed,” said Dr. Gorkan Ahmetoglu, Lecturer of Business Psychology at University College, London. “If the information is unfamiliar or we don’t quite grasp it, noting as much as possible down on a digital device means it can be used to review and build our understanding later.”

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Our research also discovered that a lot of business professionals are willing to sacrifice active listening in meetings for the ease of typing notes and having a real-time record of a meeting or presentation. Forty-six percent of those surveyed strongly believe that these factual records are better than nuance. The majority of the participants (67%) also agreed that digital notes are easier to back up and share than relying on memory.

People heavily depend on notes, that are kept in “external memory”.  And this leaves a wide attack surface for unfair colleagues, rivals and cybercriminals. If earlier spies “eavesdropped”, now it’s often damaged or deleted at all, or even discreetly changed.

 

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As there are no invulnerable devices, such an incident can cause a lot of trouble to the victim. While this may sound scary at times, all hope is not lost for us. We live in a technologically advanced age and should not rely solely on our memories. At the same time, we should not be exclusive with technology either and should look to find a balance between the two.

In a past post, I talked about how LiveScribe helps me mix my notes with audio to help share meetings with international colleagues who have missed out on a meeting. This tool can help bridge the gap between the two.

As Ahmetoglu explains: “If one is very familiar with what is being said, then being present “in mind” may be a more effective way to absorb the full bucket of information presented than by noting it on a device — letting our working memory connect the dots in real-time.”

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So I’ll close asking you again — Are you a good multi-tasker? Leave your answers below in the comments section. You can also read the full report here