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The Multitasking Myth

By Jill Murphy, author of Labyrinth Learning’s Microsoft® Word 2016: Comprehensive

We all do it: Texting while walking, sending emails during meetings, chatting on the phone while cooking dinner. In today’s society, doing just one thing at a time seems downright luxurious—even wasteful. But chances are, you’re not doing yourself (or your boss, your friends, or your family) any favors by multitasking your way through the day. Research shows it’s not nearly as effective as we like to believe.

It can even be harmful to our health.

 

You’re Not Really Multitasking

What you call multitasking is really task-switching, says Guy Winch, PhD, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries. He says:

“When it comes to attention and productivity,
our brains have a finite amount.”

Moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity, he says, because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears—plus, you never get fully “in the zone” for either activity.

You’re Working More Slowly

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking doesn’t save time. In fact, it will probably take you longer to finish two projects when you’re jumping back and forth than it would to finish each one separately.

The same is true even for behaviors as seemingly automatic as driving. In a 2008 University of Utah study, drivers took longer to reach their destinations when they chatted on cell phones.

“What tends to save the most time is to do things in batches,” says Winch. “Pay your bills all at once, then send your emails all at once. Each task requires a specific mindset, and once you get in a groove you should stay there and finish.”

You’re Making Mistakes

Experts estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. It can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involves a lot of critical thinking.

A 2010 French study found that the human brain can handle two complicated tasks without too much trouble, because it has two lobes that can divide responsibility equally between the two. Adding a third task, however, can overwhelm the frontal cortex and increase the number of mistakes you make.

You’re Not Good At It

Yes, you.

You may think you’re a master multitasker, but according to a 2013 University of Utah study, that probably means you’re actually among the worst.

The research focused specifically on cell phone use behind the wheel, and it found that people who scored highest on multitasking tests do not frequently engage in simultaneous driving and cell phone use—probably because they can better focus on one thing at a time. Those who do talk and drive regularly, however, scored worse on the tests even though most described themselves as having above-average multitasking skills.

Focus and Slow Down – To Speed Up

When your set down to work on a project or complete a task, resist the urge to multitask. Here are some tips:

  • Turn off your email.
  • Silence your phone.
  • Close/Minimize unneeded program windows on your computer.

Most importantly, fully engage in what you’re doing, complete it or get to your planned stopping point, and then move on to the next task or project. Chances are you’ll get more done, better, and in less time overall.

 

 

Career Opportunities in California Correctional Education

The California Office of Correctional Education (OCE) is seeking educators for a variety of positions. The OCE adult schools serve several thousand California state inmates each day by providing programming in Adult Basic Education, High School Equivalency, Voluntary Education Program, and Career Technical Education. Libraries offer materials to support inmate employment, community reentry and life skills. The libraries also provide legal resources and recreational and educational materials at each prison. OCE programming includes face to face college classes, distant education, recreation services, educational television programming and community transition planning.

Does this sound like something you might find rewarding? Learn more about available positions such as a Senior Librarian, Librarian, Library Technical Assistant, Academic Teacher, or Career Technical Education (CTE) Instructor. Details can be found at this link: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Rehabilitation/OCE/hiring.html

Brian Favro of Labyrinth Learning recently saw firsthand how the Office of Correctional Education is transforming the state prison system when he attended the inauguration ceremony of the San Quentin Machine Shop. This innovative program is one of several using education and job training to give inmates a greater chance of getting and retaining a job once outside the prison walls, thereby lowering their chances of returning to prison.

The San Quentin Machine Shop and the Last Mile (https://thelastmile.org/) are just two examples of the types of programs being delivered by the Office of Correctional Education.

Watch the videos below to be inspired by the difference these programs are making.

First Five Episodes of “Titans of CNC”

Episode 1 – https://vimeo.com/214059332/741094df84
Episode 2 – https://vimeo.com/214065569/f1edb6ed6d
Episode 3 – https://vimeo.com/214071002/45103f74a8
Episode 4 – https://vimeo.com/214091419/5bb0c84d44
Episode 5 – https://vimeo.com/214189327/4c18568b73

New! Computer Basics for Windows 10.

We are excited to announce the launch of our new title: Welcome to Computer Basics: Windows 10 and Office Online.  It will be in-stock and ready for purchase on February, 22, 2016.

This book uses our effective instructional design and provides you Cover-Welcome-To-Computer-Basics-125with an easy way to teach students basic computer tasks in a Windows 10 and Office Online environment.

One great feature that is included is a unit on File Management.  We all know the importance of keeping files organized in a logical manner.  The exercises help students practice key elements that will help them be organized in the workplace, at school, and at home.

The book also provides beginner practice for using the Internet and Email, including creating the most common types of email accounts. The practice examples help students computerlab-students-g-354-236 get up to speed quickly and ensure a solid foundation for school or on the job.

We have posted resources for you to preview the highlights as well as the table of contents and content.

If you are teaching a computer basics class in a Windows 10 environment, be sure to check it out and let us know what you think.

 

QuickBooks is changing – are you ready?

If you’re planning on teaching a QuickBooks course next year, we have news to share — and we’d like to hear from you in a survey.QB16_700x449

Intuit recently announced that educational site licensing (Lab Packs) and 140-day QuickBooks student trial software will not be available for QuickBooks Pro
2016. If you upgrade every year, or you had planned to upgrade to the 2016 edition, this may leave you in a bind.

We have learned that Intuit will be making available, for the first time, educational site licensing and 140-day student trial licensing for QuickBooks Online, Intuit’s cloud-based version of QuickBooks. We also learned that educational site licensing and student trial software will still be available for QuickBooks 2015.

What am I going to do now? This is a question that many of the educators we have spoken to have asked themselves. I know many start offering the newest version of QuickBooks in summer classes, and the rest all switch to a new version in Fall (if they were planning to switch.)

I’m sure the last thing you need is yet another decision to make, so let me help with a few scenarios for you to consider:

  • You buy retail QuickBooks 2016 licenses, one for each computer in your lab (and expect students to purchase this also if they want to work from home), or you teach only-online classes, and expect the students to purchase the software themselves. Estimated retail cost is $199.95.
  • You feel that this is a push to try QuickBooks Online, and you’re up for it. You’ll write new curriculum that teaches only the QuickBooks Online features (which may have features different from QuickBooks Pro) and find exercises that work within the QuickBooks Online environment.
  • You’ll stay with QuickBooks 2015, or upgrade to this if you were on a previous version, and see what Intuit does next year for 2017. You also explore QuickBooks Online, from both a feature standpoint as well as the publisher materials for curriculum.

Any way you look at it, you have to make a change. And most educators we spoke to had no idea that this was happening, and now don’t know quite what to do.

We want to ensure that Labyrinth Learning’s plans for QuickBooks materials align with the plans you have for your courses. We invite you take a brief survey about your QuickBooks course plans. Your input will help us make publishing decisions in this subject area.

Important Tips Every PowerPoint User Should Know

PowerPoint is a potent tool for use in presentations. However, a combination of skill and experience on the part of the presenter can help make a good presentation into an outstanding one.

Important Tips Every PowerPoint User Should KnowHere are important PowerPoint tips for users:

  • Being legible is the single most important consideration for PowerPoint slides. Users need to choose readable fonts, while also making sure that the backgrounds don’t engulf the text. For example, users should never choose to a light-colored text with white backgrounds.
  • Based on the same reasoning, users should reduce the number of graphics included in their presentation. The right graphic at the right time and right place can lend a nice bit of impact to a slide, but a number of them on the same page can end up creating distracting clutter. In short, cut the graphic unless it is on point.
  • Bullet points might not be the best method to organize information being presented on the slides because it can cram too much information on single slides. Instead, give each bullet point its own slide so that the audience has time to read and absorb each one of them.
  • Make sure that the PowerPoint presentation can be shown no matter the computer that is being used to show it. For example, use common fonts in case the computer does not have the same selection installed as the one used to create the presentation.
  • Use the stopwatch feature while practicing to see the time spent on each part.

For more PowerPoint tips and eLearning tips, please contact us at Labyrinth Learning.

Image Source: freedigitalphotos (Ambro)

Why Your Accounting Department Should Start Using Quickbooks

Why Your Accounting Department Should Start Using Quickbooks

People who have studied accounting understand the tedious and time-consuming effort needed to complete even a single financial statement. Not to mention the frustration of having to start over because of a single mistake, which can render an entire document useless. For businesses, using a robust and easy to use accounting software like QuickBooks is a great solution.

Why Your Accounting Department Should Start Using Quickbooks
Utilize Quickbooks to better manage the accounting in your business.

QuickBooks is the number one rated accounting software in the United States for a good reason. Here is a small selection of the reasons to start using QuickBooks:

  • QuickBooks can help accountants produce the same results in much less time compared to manual calculation. Better still, its speed means that new information can be incorporated into its financial statements as soon as it comes in, meaning that businesses will have up-to-date information for use in their decision-making processes at all times.
  • The chance of human error is reduced because QuickBooks can pull information straight from common business programs.
  • Considering the benefits of using QuickBooks, it is relatively inexpensive.
  • QuickBooks is scalable because it can continue providing businesses with the same benefits even as their operations expand and increase in number. At the same time, QuickBooks is versatile because it can be customized to meet the needs of organizations ranging from non-profits to retailers and manufacturers.
  • Given both the length of its existence and the number of its users, there can be no doubt that QuickBooks is reliable.
  • Learning to use QuickBooks is simple so as to minimize the disruption to businesses from switching over.

For more on QuickBooks, contact us at Labyrinth Learning.

Image Source: jannoon028 (freedigitalphotos)

How Windows 8.1 Will Improve Office Life

How Windows 8.1 Will Improve Office Life

How Windows 8.1 Will Improve Office Life
Source: freedigitalphotos

Although Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8.1 has its appeals for private consumers, it is also going to be powerful enough to fulfill the needs of modern businesses. No matter the exact duties and responsibilities expected of your position, Windows 8.1 in the office will help make it easier to live up to them.

Here are some of the features introduced in Windows 8.1:

  • Work Folders let you work with any device you want at any time. Even if you bring your work home on an unconnected device, your progress will be uploaded to the central server as soon as the device is connected to the Internet. In short, Work Folders give employees more freedom, without getting in the way of IT.
  • Windows 8.1 is meant to be more secure than its predecessors. One example is how Windows Defender is going to include network behavior monitoring, providing the OS with additional native protection against unauthorized intrusion. Furthermore, Microsoft has promised a decade of support for Windows 8.1, which will help keep its protections up-to-date for that period.
  • Microsoft is including native support for VPN clients, making it much easier for businesses to protect their data.
  • There are also numerous user experience improvements that will help make your office life more comfortable. For example, Windows 8.1’s search capabilities are going to be integrated with Bing, making it possible for you to search for anything from your user interface.

For help with the office software meant to go with Windows 8.1, please contact us at Labyrinth Learning.

What's New in Windows 8.1

What’s New in Windows 8.1

What's New in Windows 8.1
Check out the latest updates in the Windows 8.1 operating system. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mere days ago, Microsoft brought its newest installment to market, Windows 8.1.  From design to functionality, here are the essential differences in the new Windows operating system:

  • Return of the Start Button. Users who are fans of the iconic Windows Start button will celebrate its return. However, if you were hoping for a Windows 7-esque retreat, then apply the braes. The new Start button leads to the start screen rather than the customary program menu.
  • Improved UI interface. For the experienced Windows user, there’s a constant clash between the new Windows start screen and more traditional desktop interface. Windows 8.1 users will feature less contention between the two.
  • Enhanced functionality for mouses and keyboards. Taking into account that not everyone is using a touch screen, Windows 8.1 has adjustments to ensure that keyboards and mouses work adequately with the system.
  • New IE. With the addition of the new system comes an update to one of the most popular web browsers. Internet Explorer, now in its eleventh installment, is projected to be faster and adds new features.

Microsoft made it clear these updates are a direct-response to consumer feedback. Though experts don’t quite deem Windows 8.1 a new system, they agree it’s more than a band-aid on Windows 8’s presented deficiencies. If you are a Windows 8 user, the great news is that you can enjoy this system update free-of-charge by visiting the Microsoft Windows store.

Labyrinth Learning stays up-to-date with the latest technology developments  to ensure that learning is effective and engaging. Contact us today for more information.