Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Blue Box Blog, SmartBear Blog, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud

Agile Computing: Blog Post

Cracking the Myth of Effective Multitasking

Why many people may not fully understand their potential or limitations in accomplishing more than one task

It was only fairly recently that I cracked the myth of multitasking, and found an attitude toward it that I am comfortable with.

These days, I see it this way. A housewife (if you'll forgive the 1950s stereotype that follows - but the idea of the multitasking superwoman is perfect for this purpose) needs to cook dinner, tidy up the lounge of toys and change a nappy. She leaves some sauce simmering on the stove, picks up a couple of soft toys and throws them in the toy chest, then takes care of the baby's nappy. She returns child to crib, washes her hands, picks up the books that were on the floor and slides them back into the bookshelf. She returns to the stove, adds some basil, reduces the heat and goes to answer the doorbell. This is the classic stereotype of multitasking. That skill, much maligned by the stereotype useless male - unable to sit upright and breath in and out at the same time - that results in incredible productivity.

But this is not really multitasking.

At no stage was the housewife engaged in two tasks at once, nor should she have been. True multitasking would have involved changing the nappy, while using the baby's legs to stir the sauce and kicking the toys and books one by one toward the place they were supposed to go. The result? Burned feet, nappies on the stove, books nowhere near the bookshelf and a lot of mess to clean up.

Thus stands the multitasking myth. Because what you're really talking about is not the ability to complete multiple tasks at once, but the ability to switch between tasks effectively, without hindering the effectiveness of your contribution to any of them. This is what you should focus on improving if you want to be a multitasker. How can you flip between jobs productively? Your working routine is bound to require it; nobody's working day ever allows them to focus on one thing only, but they are seldom required to actually do two things at once.

So multitasking remains one of the biggest myths in the modern workplace, whether that work place is an office, a construction site or a household.

That's not to say it doesn't exist, or that it can't be done. There are number of ways that you can multitask effectively, and putting some thought into structuring your day to allow for these real examples of multitasking is what will help to make you more efficient.

Here are a few things you can do that constitute real multitasking.

Schedule phone conversations when you're driving (hands free please.)
My car has some clever green tooth or blue eye thing that means I receive calls from a button on my steering wheel. But a $10 earpiece has much the same effect.If you have an hour long commute involving traffic (and if you're working on engineering jobs in Houston for example, I know you do) you can make it work for you. It doesn't have to be business; it can be anything that will save you time earlier or later in the day. Sit on hold with whichever bank is currently abusing your custom. Call Mom. If it's something you would have to find other time to do otherwise, it's saving you time.  (Make sure you are complying with all legal responsibilities for safety reasons.)

Combine Audiobooks with basic physical tasks
Again, the car is good. But so is the bath, the kitchen while you're cooking dinner (one of my responsibilities at our place - who's 1950's now?) or the treadmill at the gym. You don't have to read, to get that book read. It was a big day for me when I realized that iPods weren't just for music. Audiobooks (that you pay for) or podcasts (that you don't) offer a vast range of opportunities to learn and develop during dead time, like when you're on the stationary bike, or boiling the water for the pasta.

Combine Conference Calls with almost anything

Be honest. A good number of conference calls require less than active participation. If I find myself on one of those calls, I look for the mute button and for something else to do. If I'm in my office at home, I'll do a wash load or clean the kitchen. The combination of mindless physical task and passive mental task is a good one. You should be careful not to try anything too engaging. It's difficult to build a PowerPoint presentation or write a detailed e-mail and stay on top of the subject matter of a conference call, even if you're not talking very often. You need to pay attention, but a physical task that requires no thought should allow that.

Multitasking can only be effectively achieved with the right balance of mindless physical tasks and stationary mental ones. As soon as anything blurs the lines on that distinction, you're in trouble. Beware overreaching. I suggest you take my word for the fact that stationary bikes and food preparation are not a good match. Weddings and audiobooks can also result in injuries of a different kind. Throughout this process, one must pay attention to what is potentially dangerous, or just plain inappropriate. It's easy to offend people if they should get the impression they don't have your full attention.

At the end of the day, which task you are neglecting, and which you are diligently carrying out is all a matter of perception. As my school chaplain once told me - "You can't smoke while you pray. But you can pray, while you smoke."

Multitasking suggestions and party fouls welcome in your comments...

More Stories By Richard Spragg

Richard Spragg is currently the Senior VP of Marketing for Talascend. Talascend is a provider of human resources in the engineering, construction, technology and manufacturing industries. Today, Talascend brings its clients the opportunity to fully staff projects from a single source, creating an opening for substantial cost savings and increased efficiency. Richard has 14 years of experience in marketing, engineering and construction, HR & staffing in both the UK and USA. Richard's specialties include marketing, recruitment operations, public realtions and business development. He writes on various subjects including global engineering jobs, staffing and marketing in the technical sector.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...