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The Myth of Multitasking & Why You Need to Stop

The Myth of Multitasking & Why You Need to Stop

Trevor 7 comments

Recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously. The reality of the matter is that we switch tasks quickly. When you read and listen to music or when you text while sitting in a meeting, you’re not really doing 2 simultaneous tasks. There’s a stop and start process that goes on in the brain. This stop and start actually eats up time, is less efficient, has a higher propensity for mistakes and it can be overall exhausting.

 

Still think you are a great Multitasker? Do the following test:

Part A. Instructions: 

1. Draw two horizontal lines on a piece of paper. Now, have someone time you as you carry out the two tasks:

2. On the first line write:

– I am a great multitasker

3. On the second line, write out the numbers 1-20 sequentially:

– 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

 

How much time did it take you? It usually takes about 20 seconds.

 

Now let’s start multitasking.

Part B. Instructions: 

1. Draw two horizontal lines. Have someone time again.

2. Write the first letter on the first line, then write the first number on the second line.

3. Write the second letter on the first line, then write the second number on the second line. For example:

– I am…

– 1 2 3…

4. Continue in this fashion until you’ve completed both the sentence and the number sequence.

multitask-2

How long did it take you? More than likely the time has doubled from the first round. You might have also noticed that you made some mistakes, and probably got frustrated in the process since you had to “rethink” what the next letter would be, and then the next number.

 

What you just did is known as switch-tasking on something very simple, but this is exactly what happens when one tries to do several tasks at one. Keep tabs on yourself to avoid switchtasking, and focus your brain on one task at a time. If you have several tasks at hand, try the Pomodoro Technique, a time management practice.

 

Sources: Psychology Today 

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7 Comments

Trevor

October 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm

[…] myth of multitasking has long been debunked, and the notion of working at one thing at a time is gaining importance. […]

Trevor

October 27, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Por eso es mejor hacer 1 cosa bien hecha y terminada que 2 a medias y sin finalizarlas..
Gracias, es bueno saberlo para no creernos multitasking.

Thank you,

Trevor

October 28, 2014 at 9:51 am

So true. Multitasking isn’t really possible. For me, it’s more like constantly switching between many tasks and not really fully completing one!

Trevor

October 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm

It’s true, Multitasking isn’t for everyone. It would be good to know from the Author if there is a statistic out there that compares male / female and which % multitask more.

Trevor

October 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm

BMC Psychology published a study in October 2013 which included results from two experiments. The experiment urged for accuracy over speed, and they found that “men were significantly slower – taking 77% longer to respond, whereas women took 69% longer. This difference may seem small, but it adds up over a working day or week.”

At the genetic level, women and men are inherently different; and it is no surprise that this translates to different approaches for the same tasks. According to one of the researches, “[women] spent more time thinking at the beginning, whereas men had a slight impulsiveness, they jumped in too quickly”. However, the most efficient gender at multitasking might also depend on the nature of the tasks, whether it’s sequential or simultaneous.

Surprisingly, there hasn’t been many studies in this field in order to draw statistical generalizations. Here’s an article from BBC News that delves deeper into differences.

Trevor

November 10, 2014 at 7:37 am

I don’t really believe multitasking could be possible or effective.
I prefer working with an specific list of to-dos and go one by one, dedicating your full attention and efforts to check off one well done task.

Trevor

November 10, 2014 at 10:08 am

Absolutely. The approach you take is much more efficient, rendering better results and less mistakes.

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