Excerpt of an article written by Travis Bradberry |Inc.
In the morning, when you have lots to do, tons of energy, and it feels like you can do two or three things at once, it is tempting to multitask, but it sets your whole day back. Research conducted at Stanford University confirmed 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.
But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people on the basis of 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. Ouch!
Many people have, knowingly or unknowingly, a belief that multitasking is a good thing. I am not sure where or when the belief originated. Perhaps, it came from school when we tried to meet the impossible time commitments. Maybe, the idea originated from ill-informed consultants or managers who believe working smarter and increased efficiency require multitasking.
The fact is people cannot multitask, and trying to prove they can only proves they cannot. At this time, even the fastest computers cannot multitask; they simply switch between tasks so quickly it appears they are multitasking. I think it is safe to conclude people cannot multitask if computers, that change tasks faster than people, cannot.
Thanks to Travis Bradberry for writing the article from which the except came; Inc. for committing its resources to the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text in this post.