Multitasking Is A Myth People Keep Believing
Most people feel they can multitask and believe multitasking makes them more productive.
The problem is that studies have shown over and over that multitasking is a myth. Not only does multitasking lead to worse results, the human brain just isn’t wired to do two complex things simultaneously.
Just because it feels like we can multitask, it doesn’t mean that’s what’s actually happening.
What actually happens is we rapidly switch attention back and forth between the two tasks. This switching happens so fast that it feels like you’re doing the two tasks simultaneously. But it’s not simultaneous.
There’s a cost to this constant switching and it’s why we should avoid multitasking. Every time your brain switches attention between tasks, it takes time and energy. Think of it like changing back and forth between two TV channels. There’s a slight break in signal as you switch back and forth. That time and energy gradually build up and can eventually bring you to exhaustion. It’s why chefs and air control staff burn out so quickly. The constant switching back and forth between different tasks drains their energy and destroys their focus.
While this drain of energy is clearly bad, it tricks us into feeling like we’re being productive. If you’re exhausted after a long day multitasking, it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot. But the truth is that exhaustion is a result of wasting time and effort. This is partly why people still believe this myth – because it feels like it works.
The lesson to take away here is that our own gut feeling for what we think is true often doesn’t match reality. Not only that, when studies show that our gut feeling is wrong, instead of using that information to make changes, we might continue to hold on to that wrong view.
Multitasking is a myth. This week watch out for any time when you try to multitask and try to look for alternative ways to achieve the tasks you’re working on.
Key Lessons To Remember
- Our brains cannot effectively multitask
- We switch back and forth between tasks when we think we’re multitasking
- This constant switching back and forth drains energy and reduces our effectiveness
- Just because something feels like it’s working, it doesn’t mean that’s actually what’s happening
- Feeling productive isn’t the same as being productive