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The Myth of Multitasking

by Florian Baessler

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Multitasking has become a more popular term, thanks to new technology such as smartphones.

Multitasking may seem very efficient, as you end up doing two or more tasks when you’re done, but it is mostly better to just finish tasks individually. A reason for this is because multitasking is essentially switching from one task to another over and over again, gradually finishing both of the tasks at the same time, and it takes extra time just make the switch and adjust your brain to the task.

Most people multitask mainly because they feel the opposite. This is because whenever a mini-task is completed, we feel a huge sense of accomplishment even though it didn’t require much critical thinking. Try writing your name two or more times; you should find it easier to just write your name over and over again instead of doing it all at once.

While you’re doing one task, some of your memory needed for other tasks is needed for the task at hand, so it is sacrificed just to continue it. This leads to some short term memory loss when you go back to your other tasks.

Doing one task takes up most of your brain power and is done less efficiently when people concentrate on other things. Concentration is really important for most tasks, and even thinking about another task is harmful.

The brain can only store information on two tasks evenly on its two hemispheres; throw a third task in and the brain simply wouldn’t be able to handle it. If the tasks use the same part of the brain to work, you wouldn’t even need to throw in a third to have a dramatic drop in efficiency.

According to a survey conducted by Cable News Network (CNN), those that don’t multitask are actually better at multitasking than the ones that do. It is not so much the ability to multitask, but the ability to do the tasks. Non Multitaskers are simply better at doing those tasks, proving that multitasking is a weakness.

Multitasking is also stressful, and stress is not good for your brain. The decreased efficiency is what really makes the brain stressed out, as the brain sees that it isn’t close to accomplishing the task.

Stress has negative long term effects, some of which really have nothing to do with the task you’re trying to accomplish. Some of the long term effects of stress are increased muscle tension and blood pressure.

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