Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Myth of Multitasking

Does multitasking work? In a word ... no.

Though ardent multitaskers may deny it, study after study shows that unitasking, tending to only one main task at a time, is clearly a more efficient, effective, and productive way to get things done than attempting to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.

Author Steven Aitchison put it this way:

How many times have you heard someone say, "I get so much done because I am able to multitask"? Usually said with a smug little grin. Whilst it has been a popular thing to be able to attempt, multitasking is on its way out of our lives, that is if we really do want to become more efficient and productive.

It has been shown in numerous studies that people who try and multitask actually lose efficiency and productivity levels drop. The guy on the phone, checking his emails whilst telling their work colleague what to do maybe be doing three things at once however he is doing three things at once very badly and not efficiently enough to be doing the job correctly.

Studies by Professor David Meyer at University of Michigan showed that young adults who had to perform two math tasks, back and forth, showed that it took longer doing the tasks this way than it would have if they had done them separately.

To read the entire article, click here.

While some limited multitasking can be a good idea, common sense dictates that one can pay full attention to only one mental processing task at a time. Many workers and students, put off by the boredom inherently a part of certain necessary activities and overwhelmed by the mountain of stuff they have to do, will dogmatically insist that multitasking works really well "for them" and resist with gusto the whole concept of unitasking.

That's too bad, because by doing so habitual multitaskers are actually setting themselves up for increased stress, decreased productivity, and frantic, rushed mindlessness that characterizes the moment-to-moment experience so many of us have of our lives, today.

If you're still not convinced, click here for a list of LifeHacker articles that put the multitasking argument into proper perspective.

Click here to read about one man's quest to heal himself of frenzied "multitasking madness" in 30 days.


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