MULTITASKING

Posted on September 11, 2020 · Posted in Blog, General, Memo Plus Gold, Personal

For nearly everybody, in nearly all situations, multitasking is impossible. When we think we are multitasking, most often we are not really doing two things at once – but instead, individual actions in rapid succession.

The neuroscience is clear: We are wired to be mono-taskers. One study found that just 2.5 percent of people are able to multitask effectively. And when the rest of us attempt to do two complex activities simultaneously, it is simply an illusion.

Multitasking impairs your best thinking

We know what you are thinking: Who cares? Multitasking. Mono-tasking. It’s all just semantics, right? Wrong!

Trying more than one thing at a time – especially anything potentially dangerous, like texting while driving – seriously compromises our ability to complete the tasks safely and well. Equally important, repeatedly switching back and forth from project to project, like a hummingbird darting from flower to flower and then back to the original flower, can impair our ability to function at our finest.

Remember this the next time you are tackling two tough tasks simultaneously.

While we should strive to centre on singular tasks, we have technological devices and resources that foster the multitasking myth. Smartphone in hand, earbuds in place, we feel empowered to tackle the day’s assignments all at once or to stay connected constantly.

Divided attention

The concern among neuroscientists studying the workings of the brain is that our tendency to divide our attention, rather than focus, is hampering our ability to perform even simple tasks. This can have an extremely negative impact on:

  • Attentiveness. Those regulations against using your cell phone while driving is based on scientific data. Dual tasking (doing a linguistic or auditory task during a driving simulation) is associated with reduced activity in regions of the brain important for attention, as well as poorer driving performance. Several studies have proposed that individuals who are heavy media multitaskers adopt a style of attention control that favours the parallel processing of multiple information sources over-focus on one primary task. Another study compared the performances of heavy vs. light media multitaskers. Surprisingly, heavy media multitaskers performed worse on tests of task-switching ability, possibly due to greater difficulties filtering out irrelevant information.
  • Learning. An adage states, “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day if you do but one thing at once. But there is not enough in the year if you will do two things at a time.” In essence, the more we multitask, the less we are able to accomplish because we slowly lose our ability to focus enough to learn. Attention is essential to learning. If we attempt from an early age to multitask constantly, we do not practice how to tune out the rest of the world, to engage in deeper processing and learning. Empirical research has demonstrated that multitasking with technology (such as texting, listening to music, checking emails) negatively impacts studying, doing homework, learning, and grades.
  • Mindfulness. Those who are mindful are able to do more than just pay attention; they do so on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This is perhaps the most advanced form of attentiveness, and it can result in decision-making made in a stress-free and less reactive environment. Indeed, many therapies based on mindfulness assist patients suffering from depression, anxiety, chronic pain, substance abuse, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other conditions.

Choose to do one thing at a time

To isolate out of the multitasking world brings many benefits, in all walks of life and in any setting, including the workplace. It certainly has been an essential aspect of our careers.

People assume that the skill of a surgeon is primarily in the steadiness and precision of his or her hands, and there is some truth to that. But the proficiency of surgery is the ability to single-mindedly focus on a single patient and complete a series of tasks, all in the pursuit of a given outcome that may take many hours to finish.

Surgeons are not necessarily born with this ability to mono-task. They learn it – through hours and hours of surgery, over the years, and years of perfecting. And it can be quite pleasant. Many surgeons say that their most loved environment in the hospital is the operating room, despite the stress and risk inherent with the job. It is a place of isolation, a safe home from the multitasking world.

You need not be a surgeon to benefit from freeing yourself of the multitasking myth and choosing to mono-task. Whether driving on a long trip, organizing an event, tending a garden, or filling an order, we unequivocally perform best one thing at a time always.

As usual, we remind you to take your Memo Plus Gold daily. It will help to keep you alert and mentally sharp.Natural memory enhancer