Multi-tasking – A Myth/Not

Multi-tasking is one of the buzz word in today’s busy world. We also live in a world where lot of work is happening in the area of neuroscience. Some would even dare to call the 90s (1990-2000) the decade of brain. So there are a lot of research available on each of the areas connected to brain and how brain is affected by different aspects, one of them being multi-tasking.

There could be different types of multi-tasking. A jogger listen to music is also doing at least 2 things, but both of the tasks are connected to different parts of the brain and so this is manageable. But a person working with programming, whatapp, news, talking at the same time is also doing multi-tasking, but most of these tasks are processed by the same part of brain and this according to researchers, this is problematic. Some researchers even would say there is nothing called multi-tasking; I quote from an article here, “MRI scans show that when we attempt to do two things at once, our mind simply switches attention between the two. We focus on one task and then quickly refocus on a second task, but never successfuly perform both at the same time. The frontal lobe in our brain controls which act we prioritise, and our minds are unable to process two tasks simultaneously.”

Another significant research finding shows that people who do multi-tasking significantly reduces their efficiency. According to many of them, it is better to do mono-task than do multi-task, especially if you are doing something really significant. It is a research finding that is repeated by many, so it is foolish to ignore it as useless. But what could we do??

  • Let’s prioritize our tasks; it is not required to multi-task all the time; avoid it as much as possible.
  • Many would like to listen to music when they study. Dr. Roy Pereira, SJ, a neuroscientist, professor and a musician would say, listen to instrumentals, not the ones with lyrics.
  • The relative importance of the task should be inversely proportional to the number of tasks at hand.
  • When I am multitasking, I am missing out on the aspect of living my life fully. It is affecting memory, hurting relationships, productivity. I may just carry on, but I am missing much.
  • Do multi-tasking only when it  is most required. Avoid it as much as possible.

(I agree some of you may be exceptions. But most can’t be as this is a comprehensive study done on different sets of people).

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