Multitasking in the Digital Age

Book description


In our digital age we can communicate, access, create, and share an abundance of information effortlessly, rapidly, and nearly ubiquitously. The consequence of having so many choices is that they compete for our attention: we continually switch our attention between different types of information while doing different types of tasks--in other words, we multitask. The activity of information workers in particular is characterized by the continual switching of attention throughout the day. In this book, empirical work is presented, based on ethnographic and sensor data collection, which reveals how multitasking affects information workers' activities, mood, and stress in real work environments.

Multitasking is discussed from various perspectives: activity switching, interruptions as triggers for activity switching, email as a major source of interruptions, and the converse of distractions: focused attention. All of these factors are components of information work. This book begins by defining multitasking and describing different research approaches used in studying multitasking. It then describes how multiple factors occur to encourage multitasking in the digitally-enabled workplace: the abundance and ease of accessing information, the number of different working spheres, the workplace environment, attentional state, habit, and social norms. Empirical work is presented describing the nature of multitasking, the relationship of different types of interruptions and email with overload and stress, and patterns of attention focus. The final chapter ties these factors together and discusses challenges that information workers in our digital age face.

Table of contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Introduction
  3. What is Multitasking? (1/2)
  4. What is Multitasking? (2/2)
  5. What Contributes to Multitasking?
    1. 3.1 Abundance of Information Available
    2. 3.2 Number of Tasks and Projects in which People are Involved
    3. 3.3 Size of Workplace Social Networks
    4. 3.4 The Ease and Speed of Accessing Information
    5. 3.5 The Computer Interface
    6. 3.6 The Structure of Hypermedia
    7. 3.7 Cultural Assumptions with Technology
    8. 3.8 Physical Arrangement of Office Space
  6. Multitasking in Information Work
    1. 4.1 Work Fragmentation
    2. 4.2 Measuring Multitasking Activity in situ
    3. 4.3 Multitasking: Switching Events
    4. 4.4 Multitasking among Devices
    5. 4.5 Working Spheres
      1. 4.5.1 Central and Peripheral Working Spheres
      2. 4.5.2 Working Spheres without “Nonsignificant” Disruptions
      3. 4.5.3 Metawork
      4. 4.5.4 Work Fragmentation and Time of Day
    6. 4.6 Summary and Discussion: Multitasking and Fragmented Work
  7. Interruptions
    1. 5.1 Types of Interruptions: External and Internal
      1. 5.1.1 Self-Interruptions
    2. 5.2 Interruptions and Work
      1. 5.2.1 Work Role
      2. 5.2.2 Communications and Interruptions
    3. 5.3 Interruptions and the Environment
      1. 5.3.1 Collocation in the Workplace
      2. 5.3.2 Organizational Environment
      3. 5.3.3 Time of Day
    4. 5.4 Individual Differences
      1. 5.4.1 Gender
      2. 5.4.2 Personality Traits
    5. 5.5 Consequences of Interruptions
      1. 5.5.1 Resumption of Interrupted Work
      2. 5.5.2 Interruptions and Context
      3. 5.5.3 Interruptions and Stress
      4. 5.5.4 Control of Interruptions
    6. 5.6 Summary and Discussion: The Nature of Interruptions with Digital Media
  8. Email
    1. 6.1 Email Overload
    2. 6.2 Email and Multitasking
    3. 6.3 Cutting off Email: A Study
    4. 6.4 Email and Stress
    5. 6.5 Perspectives on Cutting off Email
      1. 6.5.1 Social Norms and Email Use
    6. 5.6 Email, Mood, and Focused Attention
    7. 6.7 Summary and Discussion: Email and Multitasking
      1. 6.7.1 The Continual Flow of Email
      2. 6.7.2 The Effort of “Doing” Email
      3. 6.7.3 Social Norms Associated with Email
      4. 6.7.4 Email as a Representation of Working Spheres
  9. Focus
    1. 7.1 Concepts of Attention Focus
    2. 7.2 A Theoretical Framework of Attention Focus
    3. 7.3 Patterns of Attentional States
    4. 7.4 Attentional State and Mood
    5. 7.5 Attentional State and Susceptibility to Distraction
    6. 7.6 Summary and Discussion: Focused Attention in the Workplace
  10. Conclusions (1/2)
  11. Conclusions (2/2)
  12. References (1/3)
  13. References (2/3)
  14. References (3/3)
  15. Author Biography

Product information

  • Title: Multitasking in the Digital Age
  • Author(s): Gloria Mark
  • Release date: April 2015
  • Publisher(s): Morgan & Claypool Publishers
  • ISBN: 9781627057509