Many experts complain that people do too many things at the same time. We are told to quit with all the unnecessary web-browsing, texting, twittering, music-listening, eating, and drinking. The key to productivity, competence, and even happiness is to focus on one thing and do it right. 

Now, this is excellent advice if you're performing brain surgery or landing a jumbo jet. It's terrible advice for just about everything else. 

1. Some activities really can be done on auto-pilot. There's nothing wrong with listening to music while on a treadmill, checking your email while on hold, and watching tv while folding laundry. 

2. Some activities are so boring and aversive that if it wasn't for multi-tasking, they would never get done at all. 

3. The attentional puritans are right that some activities are done better with total focus. There is considerable psychological and neurological evidence in support of this. But so what? Not everything needs to be perfect, and it's often more efficient, and a lot more fun, to do two things at 80 percent capacity than one thing at 100 percent capacity. Do the math. 

If you are reading this while watching a youtube video, it's totally fine by me. 

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A very brief defense of multi-tasking

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