The Myth Of Multitasking

Say you are checking and editing an important report, when you receive a phone call you just have to take. What do you think is the wise thing to do: stop reading the report and concentrate on speaking or continue reading as you engage in conversation? Depends on the time available, some people will answer. When you have a lot of work to do and limited time to do it in, it is tempting to try and do more than one task at a time. Recent research however indicates that people who multitask are more likely to lose the time they seek to save.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology published by the American Psychological Association recently carried the findings of research on multitasking. The researchers found evidence that people trying to multitask are unable to concentrate beyond ten minutes at a time on a single task; this, they say, can cost the company anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of its financial inflow.

How The Brain Works? 

The computer was built to make work easy for humans but now it looks like we are out to compete with this device, trying to handle many different activities at a time. It is easy for your computer to process your download, play your music, alert you on a friend’s tweet and search for information simultaneously. Unfortunately, the human brain does not function in this way.

When you focus on one task, an impulse reaches the concerned part of the brain, which then results in a command being sent to the neurons responsible for executing that action. If the midst of this process, you shift focus, the brain has to move its attention from this task to the second one.

Which means it disengages itself from the first task. Add a third task in the midst of this, and it means yet another change in the working of the brain. The result: a loss of time in coming back to a state of readiness to handle the previous task.

As David E. Meyer, Ph. D, one of the scientists in the study quoted above says, “Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes. Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”

What this indicates is that multitasking is indeed a myth, propagated by the desire to get more done in the limited time on hand. The reality is that to be able really get work done efficiently, you need to concentrate on one thing at a time, and block your brain from distractions that only interfere with its ability to do its job.

The article is written by Akash Chander, Principal Coach, The Orange Academy. Life Coaching,Executive Coaching,Leadership Coaching – www.executivecoachingindia.com.

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