Merge in turn

Having to make decisions slows people down.

We went to a university open day on Saturday. As well as touring the campus, talking to ‘student ambassadors’, and viewing the halls of residence, we listened to two talks relevant to the course our son is interested in.

The Head of School’s talk included a mention of so-called multi-tasking. Apparently, it’s  impossible, and what we actually do is ‘concept switch’ or switch attention rapidly between tasks.

She told us that research has shown that when people concept switch, their error rate goes up and the work takes longer.

On our way home my husband got somewhat frustrated at the queue for roadworks, where of course the usual difference of opinion ensued between those who merge at 800 yards and those who carry on up the emptier lane to merge further on. He commented that it’s having to make decisions that slows people down, so that an efficient system is one in which decision points are minimised.

Therefore, if roadworks contractors used signage saying ‘use both lanes’ and then in the last 100 yards ‘merge in turn now’ the whole queue would be quicker and shorter. It seems likely there would be less chance of scrapes and bashes and high blood pressure due to the difference of opinon, too.

So the error rate would decrease and the task would take less time. Time to write to the Department of Transport, perhaps.

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