"Don’t spread yourself too thin"

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"Don’t spread yourself too thin. The impact of task juggling on workers’ productivity", por D. Coviello, A. Ichino e N. Persico (link)

Abstract: We show that task juggling, i.e., the spreading of effort across too many active projects
instead of focussing on few tasks at the same time, decreases the performance of workers,
raising the chances of low throughput, long duration of projects and exploding
backlogs. Individual productivity cannot be explained only in terms of effort, ability
and experience: work scheduling is a crucial “input” that cannot be omitted from the
production function of individual workers. We provide a simple theoretical model to
study the effects of increased task juggling on the duration of projects. Using a sample
of Italian judges we show that those who are induced for exogenous reasons to work
in a more parallel fashion on many trials at the same time take longer to complete
similar portfolios of cases. The exogenous variation that identifies this causal effect is
constructed exploiting the lottery that assigns cases to judges together with the prescription
requiring judges to hold the first hearing of a case no later than 60 days from

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