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Prominent companies such as Shell and DuPont recently prohibited their employees from making phone calls while driving; not even when they were using a handsfree system. They noticed the diminished quality of these calls, caused by the simple fact that the caller could not focus entirely on the conversation. “It’s not about your hands, it’s about your mind,” Theo Compernolle, neuropsychiatrist and consultant, points out. Of course, there is the matter of safety: handsfree phone calls in your car aren’t illegal, but they multiply the odds that you’ll encounter an accident by four to eight times. “And Texting in the car is nothing short of criminally irresponsible: when you text, you take your eyes off the road for an average of ﬁve seconds. That equals crossing a soccer ﬁeld by car while blindfolded.”
In a car, there are risks, but even in the safety of your office building, multitasking simply doesn’t work. You’re only alternating rapidly between different tasks: you’re drawing up an invoice, answering a phone call or email, while a colleague is standing by your desk. “This situation is killing your productivity,” Compernolle thinks. “It takes you two to four times as long to ﬁnish the task you initially set out to perform.” He points the ﬁnger to the dominant smartphone culture, which has us all constantly checking our emails and receiving distractions at our ﬁngertips. Does multitasking never yield results? “It might work somewhat with tasks that are extremely repetitive,” Compernolle admits. “But it should be out of the question with every task that has repercussions on people’s safety. I wouldn’t want the mechanic ﬁxing my car looking at his smartphone the entire time.”
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