I've always considered myself a great multitasker and amazingly efficient — listening to a conference call, carrying on several IM conversations and answering emails — all at the same time, and not dropping a single ball. But with the advent of social networking, and my complete and total immersion in it, I think I've reached my limit — a self-induced ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I find myself jumping from task to task, checking Twitter, back to email, over to Facebook for news or comments, tweeting, answering an IM, sending an IM, and at the end of the day — not feeling like I've accomplished everything I needed to do that day. I've been writing more for work, versus editing, and I'm one of those reluctant-to-get-started kind of writers who just needs time to ramp up and do it, so that jumping around isn't particularly conducive to getting over the hump of committing to and typing those first sentences, and sticking with it as the ideas and words start to flow.
If you've seen the Disney movie, Up, where Dug the talking dog constantly interrupts himself with, "Squirrel!", losing all focus on the conversation or task at hand, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. (If you don't, check out this YouTube clip.)
This recent article in Mashable confirms what I've been feeling lately: Why Multitasking May Make You Less Productive.
And I've independently come to the same conclusion as the author of the article: Scheduling blocks of time to focus on a single task with all distractions turned off (email alerts silenced, cell phone away, browser tabs ignored and instant messenger alerts hidden).
So don't take it personally if you look for me on IM and you see my status as DND (Do Not Disturb). It's not you, it's me. :-)