Friday, January 13, 2017

Why Smart People Don't Multitask

You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren't just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that's critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

A Special Skill?

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers — those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance — were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.


Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Multitasking Lowers IQ

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they'd expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

Via Drudge: Link for more 


Chip Ahoy said...

True. I have a few acquaintances in mind who pride themselves in their mad multitask abilities and brag about it. They're all actually complete messes, and although their work is passible it could be excellent if they were capable of focusing their mind or hold their attention. As it is, everything falls short.

I don't know anything about the difficulties housewives with children experience. But I do know a harried mother when I see one.

Anecdote alert, in which I am the hero of my own story.

A woman I know is amazing. At the time she had a challenging home life raising two children, one a teenaged son and another much younger, somewhat difficult six-year old.

The six-year old kept bugging the piss out of her when she was trying to do other things, cook dinner, talk on the phone, fold clothes, shop, whatever.

I noticed the kid never got full on direct one-on-one attention. Never. He was a nuisance and so treated as such.

I told her, ignore this if you wish, I don't experience your whole life, but I notice your young son is starving for your full attention. He wants YOU. He seems to need your full on attention with no other interference. Just you and him. And I bet giving him that will clear up a lot of his anxious behavior. I suggest telling him you'll set apart 1/2 an hour just for him and nobody else. Say, "When the big hand on the clock gets to 12 then it will be just you and me and it will stay that way until the big hand is on the 6. Something like that.

It sounded like a good idea to her. It didn't work out exactly so simply but the general idea did work. It calmed down both of them. His behavior improved. It proved to the lad that he is important to her, that he is somebody. Plus he learned to tell time. To respect her space somewhat. And all they did was talk, or read a book, or play with his toys.

(I leaned this bit of psychology on my own through my dog. And you might notice that dog owners who train in obedience also have the most well behaved children. It's true. It all gets down to consistency and periods of each day devoted to full on direct undisturbed personal attention)

edutcher said...

They say women multitask better than men, but we all know how scatter-brained they are.


(Irene, wherever you are (and I know it's a good place), that was for you)

MamaM said...

Good Story, ChipAhoy.

Such is the power of Real Connection.

ricpic said...

Think of all the multitasking that's involved in just getting up in the morning! It's exhausting.

ndspinelli said...

Being a professional observer of human behavior I have said for a longtime, multitasking is the ability to do more than one thing half assed.