Knowledge@Wharton reports on some interesting research by Wharton Professor Cassie Mogilner and Duke Professor Jordan Etkin. They studied the effect that variety in your work affects your happiness. In other words, do people prefer to work on many different things vs. focusing on one task? Mogilner summarized their findings as follows:
It depends on the time frame. In [our research], we looked at the effect of variety of our activities on overall happiness. We found that over a day or a week or a month, variety — perhaps consistent with people’s perceptions — leads to greater happiness. However, over shorter periods of time than a day, such as an hour, 15 minutes [or a] half-hour, when variety actually does get experienced as multitasking, it actually becomes fairly stressful, and instead of variety increasing my happiness, it makes me less happy.