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The Rise and Fall of Multitasking

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The Myth of Multitasking

Go back to the 1980s and you'll see the start of it. I for one would openly brag about how many hours I worked ... it was the beginning of the 'multitasking' culture!

Now I'm not proud that I used to be like that, now I'm more likely to brag if I haven't worked many hours. I've never thought multitasking worked, whilst I appreciate that the phrase was 'kidnapped' by the female species, it was still not working.

But let me ask you a question: "How do you feel when you attempt to multitask?" – do you feel satisfied, or do you feel like you're getting nowhere?

I think most of us, if we're being honest, would say the latter. A study at the University of California found that multitasking impedes the brain's ability to absorb information, while research by Glenn Wilson, visiting professor of psychology at Gresham College, London, showed that people's problem-solving performance dropped by the equivalent of 10 IQ points when they multitasked, and their stress levels also rose.

It seems that during tests, people were not so great at solving problems when there were various electronic gadgets around them. Whilst men were more affected by them, women were more stressed although their performance was less affected.

People who routinely multitask were found to be the worst at ignoring irrelevant information and were found to have worse short-term memory, in other words all the skills that are required to multitask successfully. It's all about the switching tasks and the time it takes to refocus on the next task ... it seems we were never meant to be engineered that way.

Whilst the crazy world we now live in demands that we all multitask to some degree, perhaps now is the time to attempt to manage our time a little better and reflect and focus on the task at hand ... I for one need to heed this, what about you?

Picture source: Flickr

 

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