Many swear by multitasking. While doing one thing, a person can save time by doing several other things simultaneously. Some researchers claim that our brains really cannot multitask and that by juggling several things, we’re not doing any one thing very well. What a shame when we can get much more done in every minute of our day when we can do more with each minute. So let’s find out what prominent neuroscientists say.

Focus

Your mind is magnificent – you can learn and grow and feel – and all the while your gray matter IS multi-tasking. Your brain is making sure your blood is rushing around, your lungs are being filled with an ample amount of air, and also that your last meal is being digested properly. Here’s the gosh darn truth, though: your brain really cannot focus well on more than one task. Sure, we’ve all become proficient at switching tasks from one to the other, but that doesn’t mean that we are doing anything very well. In fact, researchers tell us that this kind of frenzied activity is hard on our thinker with all that stop-start-stop-start stuff. It’s only with a profound, unbroken focus that we can do our best work, that we can excel, that we can break through any barriers. Multitasking leads to mistakes!

Type of Activity

You might reason, well – it just depends on the activity. Sure, it would be quite a challenge even for Einstein to be working on an elaborate equation AND talking on the phone AND taking a sip of coffee in-between sentences. That’s what we try to do sometimes. But what about working on a project and listening to some fine classical music? Even that might slip one’s focus. What if the music cranks up to an atomizing crescendo and for a second, you are distracted? For most minds, it’s probably better that to the best of our ability, we train our brain to work on one thing at a time. Multitasking interrupts our thinking!

Quality

We convince ourselves that we really can do it all in Superhero style with all I’s dotted and T’s crossed. A research group out of Denmark developed an activity that shows how well we do when we multitask. Get a piece of paper and draw two horizontal lines on it. Glance at the time and write that down. On the first line, write the words, Multitasking saves time. On the second line write numbers consecutively from 0 to 20. Easy peasy. Check the time. Now draw two more lines. Write the first letter in M on the first line and the number 0 on the second line. Go back and forth from letter to number. Once you have completed this activity, check the time. Is it the same? Hmm. And how did you feel after you were done? Like you needed another caffeine-spiked drink? It sure was a simple task when you focused on one line at a time! Plus, racing against the clock probably made your writing sloppier than usual. Multitasking lessens quality…and does not save time!

Think again about the things that you do. If you find yourself saying, “Just a minute” to others or even to yourself, give yourself the three-way test. Are you really focused? What type of activities are you juggling? What about the quality of what you are doing – is that important?

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