Thursday, March 5, 2009
Human beings cannot multitask. Our brains can’t do it. After we think of one thing, we move on to the next. Only after one thought can we move on to another.
We can shift from one task and move to another in a rapid succession, but we cannot do two. If we do it rapidly enough, we think we are doing two but we are not. It’s like playing tennis with two or three balls. We can’t be in two or three places at once.
A person may be able to think of a hundred things that can be done at the same time, for instance; writing an e-mail and listening to music, driving and talking or texting on the phone. In some cases we are using different cognitive functions, but we still switch between tasks, taking are minds off one thing to do another. That’s why studies show that driving and talking on the phone is the same as being sleepy at the wheel or even intoxicated. In this case we can’t swap our thoughts fast enough, so are reactions are slower, taking more time.
We switch between tasks, not doing two errands at once. Try playing two video games, or doing two mathematical problems at the same time; thinking movements, strategy or anything, exactly at the instant you think of the other. We can’t do it, we replace one undertaking with another.
Another thing, when we switch tasks, we lose time. For instance, it takes me about 15minutes to shovel my driveway, and about 15 minutes to sweep my garage, so if I were to shovel the driveway then sweep the garage it would take me 30 minutes, right? If I were to jump between the two every 5 minutes it would actually take longer to do both chores. I would have to stop one to do the other. The halting is where we would lose time.
Now while taking that into consideration, doing tasks that would take considerable less time would still cost us time. It maybe just a few seconds, but it adds up. Losing time and not being productive.
Now that I’ve made the argument, I was wrenching my brain, thinking of something I could do exactly at the same time as the other. An example I came up with was, I put down the toilet seat lid at the same time I shut off the light. I did have to think of one task first before the other, but I did perform the action simultaneously. The behavior was so easy, unskilled that I put them together as one action. So in response to the “humans cannot multitask” statement, the only way to do more than one task at a time, is to put two lesser, insignificant tasks together, task that don’t have a lot of skill, something we don’t have to think about. Then maybe we can say we are multitasking.
So let me say it this way. Prioritize the task, do it, then move to the next project. We’ll notice that our stress levels will be considerably depleted.
What is you argument?