Multitasking: Bad for the Brain and More

Who doesn’t multitask nowadays? At work, we’re often forced to do so, because of company cutbacks that leaves increased workloads for fewer employees. In our “leisure” time, we’re on our laptops or Smartphones, simultaneously checking emails, our friends’ Facebook statuses, and tweeting our latest whereabouts. In the car, we do a variety of things along with driving: talking on the phone or texting, eating, putting on make-up, checking ourselves out in the rear view mirror or taking a selfie. We do everything in the car, it seems, except actually paying attention to the road.

 

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So what’s the problem with multitasking?

  • It’s not productive. Seriously. It’s not.
  • It creates a lack of focus, which may interfere with problem solving and creativity (Skerrett) Experts point out that people are not meant to be so scattered – we become less efficient at what we’re trying to accomplish. (Rosen)
  • It’s bad for our brains. In fact, Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, author of Make Your Brain Smarter, goes as far as to say it’s toxic for our brains. Multitasking drains our brain’s energy and “dumbs it down.” Chapman has done the studies: they’ve shown that multitaskers make more errors and suffer from higher stress levels. Another researcher, psychologist David Meyer from the University of Michigan says that it contributes to short-term memory loss.

 

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  • It’s stressful. Long-term stress can cause health issues.
  • It lowers our IQ. Read more about the study that led to that conclusion here: Infomania Worse than Marijuana
  • Multitasking is bad for our social wellness. We have less empathy and compassion for others when we’re multitasking. Is there research to prove that statement? Nope. Just my opinion. Because when we’re talking on the phone while we’re with our kids on the playground, we’re ignoring them. When we’re on a date and both of us are talking or texting on our personal cell phones, we’re not connecting. When we’re walking through a store checking our Facebook wall, taking a selfie, or tweeting, we may not see someone who needs our help.

Many of us multitask to keep up with the new technologies that pop up every second nowadays. We want to stay on top of everything. But in reality, we’re missing what really counts. Giving our undivided attention to a task, thereby accomplishing it well. Giving our undivided attention to a friend or loved one, thereby letting them know we value them.

Sources

Chapman, Sandra, PhD. Make Your Brain Smarter, PhD Free Press New York: NY 2013. Print.

Rosen, Christine. The Myth of Multitasking. The New Atlantis. Number 20. Spring 2008. pp. 105-110.

Skerrett, Patrick, Executive Editor. Harvard Health Blog. Multitasking – a Medical and Mental Hazard. January 7, 2012.

 

 

 

 

Bea’s Productivity Boost

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Bea had a goal for Labor Day week-end – Her goal was to actually accomplish something. But where to start?  That was the question.

First, she actually made a decision to become more productive.  Usually on week-ends, she makes a half-hearted attempt to do something that needs to be done; say, cleaning the house.  But soon, the siren call of her computer beckons – and before you know it, she’s updating her Facebook status, “liking” things her friends are posting, or (horror of horrors) attempting to complete a level on her newest game:  Pet Rescue Saga.

Once she actually made the commitment to productivity, she said “no” to multi-tasking; the bane of her existence!  Actually, multi-tasking is the bane of productivity.  We’ve all been programmed to believe that in order to accomplish a multitude of tasks, we need to do them all at once!  This my friends is an outright lie, perpetuated by our employers, who want to get the most work out of as few people as possible.

Finally, she sat down and focused on completing one thing at a time. She cleaned up the clutter in her computer room/office. She rolled up coins (she’s been saving her change for several months), and found something satisfying about adding up that change – for a whopping total of $124.  She and her hubby rearranged some furniture and created a computer workspace for his future designing ventures. Then she wrote an article for an article database, taking an hour and breaking it down into 10 minutes chunks of time.  She used each chunk of time to complete a specific writing task for that article.

Ok, so the stuff Bea completed may not be earth shattering, life changing breakthroughs. But it IS stuff she simply wanted to get done.  It made her feel happy to be productive (goes to show you how pitiful Bea’s life is, right?).

Want to become more productive?  Take a look at these tips:

From Robin Sharma’s blog:  21 Tips to Becoming the Most Productive Person you Know

From the New York Times:  Relax! You’ll Be More Productive