You are Multitasking WRONG!

MultitaskDrainMultitasking is the apparent ability to conduct more than one task or activity simultaneously.  Often called Human Multitasking, it derives from the concept of Computer Multitasking.  

The original single core computer chips actually performed this activity much like we do, not really performing two tasks simultaneously, but time-sharing, meaning that one task was performed in part, then a part of the second, then a part of the first, then a part of the second, and so on, until both were completed.  The difference is that a single-core computer CAN actually perform these tasks in such a way that both are completed at roughly the same time as it would have taken to perform each separately and as accurately had they been completed separately.  The human brain, by and large, cannot.((Gladstones, W. H.; Regan, M. A.; Lee, R. B. (1989). “Division of attention: The single-channel hypothesis revisited”. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Experimental Psychology 41 (A): 1–17. doi:10.1080/14640748908402350)) At least, it cannot without specific training, and can only do so on tasks that use completely divided paths within the brain.

For Example:
A performer in an orchestra…

…relies on visual input for timing from the conductor, auditory input from the surrounding orchestral members, visual input from the sheet music before him or her, and all this while playing an instrument…

Such a feat generally relies upon massive practice to learn the fingerings for specific notes, and learning the music such that motor memory comes into play. It is incredibly difficult to flawlessly perform blind sight reading while participating in such an event. (Yes, I just said “blind sight.”)

 

To understand why Human Multitasking is rather difficult, imagine the following scenario and your actions…

You are driving to a location where you have never been before, and miss your turn.  The radio is playing.  What is the nearly universal response?

You turn down the radio.  Why?  

Listening doesn’t have anything to do with your ability to see the road and determine a new path to get you back on track… or does it?  

The fact is that it DOES relate.  Some of the same neurons that process audio in your brain also process vision, particularly the memory centers.  In reality, just having on the radio in your car while driving decreases your ability to drive safely due to divided attention.  Now, imagine how divided your attention becomes when you do something that involves more than just audio while driving, like looking at a text message or reading an email.  

I won’t go on a rant about the incredibly dangerous activity that I just described, nor will I harp on the fact that texting while driving makes a person 23% more likely to get into a motor vehicle accident, and accounts for at least 500,000 injuries and over 6,000 deaths annually.((Sources: AAA, United States Department of Transportation, University of Utah, FocusDriven® Nationwide Insurance study, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute))

FYI:
Driving 65 mph while reading the average text is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

These examples may seem extreme, but I use them to point out something that we all are very accustomed to doing, driving a vehicle, and the issue with multitasking even with something that is almost second nature.

This is really no different than attempting to converse over a telephone while constructing an email (other than the unlikely possibility of wrecking your desk).  Our brains function like single core processors, resulting in the capacity for only one specific focus at a time.  

Does this mean that we have been outstripped by computers?  Not really.  Remember that your brain is also controlling your breathing, and heartbeat, and balance, and core temperature, and digestion, and fighting off microbes, and listening, and seeing, and smelling, and feeling, and monitoring biochemicals and adjusting them all simultaneously.  It is only your ability to direct focus that functions singularly.

So… the next time you decide to Multitask, remember that you are already doing so.  Remember that you can only give your focus to one exterior task at a time without risking a wreck.  Your performance will improve dramatically, and you can rest assured that you have done your best at that one thing in that one amount of time before moving on to the next.

Why on earth is this part of a tech blog?You
Well, that’s simple…Me

Other than pointing out that our technology can kill us… it can become just one more thing to control our time.

Business owners and home office workers believe that we can handle it all.  We think that we can run our business effectively while answering calls, sending emails, sorting HR issues, filling orders, and everything else that comes up in a day, all while maintaining sanity.  No one is a master of everything.  That is where Tech Needed comes in.  We can make sure your technology is running the way it should be to keep your work flowing.  You don’t have to also think about your computer, and the back-ups, and your website, and … well, the list can seem endless.  Let us worry about the tech, because, in reality, if you are trying to do it yourself while doing everything else, all your work suffers.

Want to know more?  Have fun with the below…

Sources:

3 thoughts on “You are Multitasking WRONG!

Leave a Reply