The Trouble with Multitasking

multitaskingEvery college student and every business executive and every administrative assistant knows that there’s never just one thing to do at any given moment. These folks and just about everybody else multitasks, and now they do it more than ever. But guess what: multitasking does not make you more productive, it actually makes you less productive.

According to onlinecollege.org, only about 2% of people are capable of effectively multitasking, but that doesn’t stop the remaining 98% of us from trying. You may think you are accomplishing more by multitasking but you are actually accomplishing less. Researchers from the University of California have found that multitasking can actually lower your effective IQ.

Study after study, in both the US and in Great Britain, has shown beyond any question that people don’t really multitask. They just hop sequentially from task to task to task. By doing so, they perform each task less effectively than if they did the tasks one at a time.

According to Dr. Gary Small, a memory specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, multitasking puts stress on the brain and that can actually shrink your memory receptors. When we’re multi-tasking, we don’t focus and this prevents information from reaching the brain’s memory stores. The more you juggle, the less productive you become.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported on a British study where researchers studied 1,100 factory workers and found that multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking a joint or losing a night’s sleep. According to Richard Feinberg, Ph.D., director of the Purdue University Retail Institute in West Lafayette, Ind., “At some point, you reach a point of information overload,”. “Your brain shuts down, and you don’t feel like making any decisions.”

In other words, multitasking makes you stupid !

Steve Durham

Sr. Account Manager, FSIoffice

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