Multitasking is Deceiving

There are a number of times when we hear people say that their biggest asset is their ability to do multiple tasks at the same time. But no one really talks about whether or not the ability to multitask is an advantage as compared to tackling one single task at a time. Studies show that the ability to multitask is actually not an advantage but a lie which people think is advantageous.

What is Multitasking?

The term multi-tasking was coined around the same time as the invention of computers. Multitasking is, in fact, the computer’s ability to perform more than one process at a single instance. However, that is a machine and our brain is different than a digital machine.

We are surrounded by many different objects and distractions. The first and foremost distraction that the current generation faces is mobile phones and also the internet. The Internet can be used for many different productive tasks but most of our time goes in browsing through social media and texting on the phone.

So now not only are we usually texting someone while eating, we text when talking, we text when walking. There is also the hazardous texting on the phone when driving, and studies show that a person who is texting on the phone while driving is more prone to accidents than a drunk driver. The response time of the person drops by 90%, the field of vision reduces by 95%, and the focus is so drastically affected that more people die by multitasking than drunk and reckless driving.

How Does Our Brain Handle Multitasking?

  • It is not that our brain cannot handle multiple tasks at the same time.
  • Ingrained activities like breathing, eating, drinking can easily be joined with other tasks which require a majority of our focus.
  • In this way, the habitual task of, supposedly drinking a cup of coffee is not affected by talking to someone.
  • But when we handle two things like talking and driving, our brains cannot handle the task.
  • There is an area in our brain called as the posterior lateral prefrontal cortex, which handles task and performance.
  • When there are many tasks to be performed, this area quickly arranges the tasks serially. It then only performs the starting two tasks and ignores the rest.

Thus, when we multitask, many of the tasks do not receive the brains’ attention. In addition to this, studies have shown that the tasks also suffer. The lie of being productive due to multitasking is shattered when one realizes the concept of pick-up time. As we switch from one task to another while multitasking, our brain requires some time to pick-up the task there by hindering productivity and optimization.

What Are The Alternatives of Multitasking?

Multitasking is sometimes necessary, but it should only be done when the two tasks do not suffer together. This gets drastic once the number of tasks to be performed increases beyond measure.

The alternative is obviously to avoid multitasking and understanding the limits of our human brain. It cannot perform many tasks at the same time. But it can perform one task at a time in such an efficient manner that the results far exceed any multitasking method. This is called as focused tasking.

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