The harms of multitasking

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While reading this blog are you watching TV? Talking with a friend? Listening to music?  Are you trying to get things done quicker through multitasking?  

Everyday we multitask without even realizing it.  When watching TV, maybe you are on your laptop doing a homework assignment or on your cell phone catching up with a friend.  How can we focus on so many tasks at one time?  We naturally think that doing multiple things at once will help us achieve our goals quicker, but we mentally cannot put the same amount of focus on more than one task. 

 “When you perform multiple tasks that each require some of the same channels of processing, conflicts will arise between the tasks, and you’re going to have to pick and choose which task you’re going to focus on and devote a channel of processing to it,” says David Meyer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan. 

Meyer is the director of the Brain, Cognition, and Action Laboratory and has been at the forefront of research on how the brain processes information.  With his research, he has come to find that you cannot do two cognitively complicated tasks at once.  

Have you ever noticed when you multitask, you find yourself not remembering anything you read or saw? That’s because you may be seeing or reading something while doing another task but your brain is not processing any of that information.  It is only capable of focusing on one task.  

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The graph above should be a little more shocking than it is.  Can you believe how many people attempt at doing so many things at once?  It states that 28% of people use their smart phone while playing a video game, I do not understand how somebody can be holding a controller for a video game at the same time as texting somebody.  

According to Douglas Merrill with Forbes, he explains that when people multitask, they are actually wasting their time.  Sure, you might be getting certain tasks done quicker but you will not retain any of the information when you try to multitask. 

Personal:

When thinking of multitasking, I never thought of it as being a big deal.  Everybody chews their gum while talking or folding their laundry while talking on the phone.  Things like this are simple tasks.  However when people take it as far as to do their make up while driving or reading a book while talking to a friend, these tasks just do not seem to work out.  

I have heard from so many people that women are supposed to be amazing at multitasking.  Where do people get this information? I personally am terrible at doing two things at once, I end up saying the words I am reading and reading the words I am saying!  Sure, some women may be exceptional at this, some even call it a hobby, but the majority of us are not as talented.  

It makes me nervous thinking about the future generation.  People already take advantage of multitasking, what will people do ten years from now? How do you think people will implement multitasking in the future generation? 

 

 

Related Sources:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224943

http://www.forbes.com/sites/douglasmerrill/2012/08/17/why-multitasking-doesnt-work/

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/09/we-need-computers-that-fix-our-brains-not-break-them.html

http://business.time.com/2013/04/17/dont-multitask-your-brain-will-thank-you/

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-myth-of-multitasking

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2 thoughts on “The harms of multitasking

  1. Kayla
    I really enjoyed your blog post about multitasking. It was actually pretty funny I was watching TV and eating a piece of candy while I was reading this so I giggled at the beginning of your post. It’s crazy how often we try to multitask without even realizing it. I think I was able to do all three things at one time because they are simple tasks (like you explained in your blog). Do you think that it is possible to do homework and listen to music at the same time? I’ve always thought it was really hard but I know a lot of people do it.
    Kathryn

  2. I think people do homework and listen to music as a way of drowning out the noise around them however I think it is not as helpful as people think. When I try to do that I find myself reading the same sentence 5 times in a row, if I listen to music it must be music with no words.

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