Personal development

Multitasking- a threat or an opportunity?

  1. Introduction
  2. What is multitasking?
  3. What are the threats of multitasking
  4. Is it also an opportunity?
  5. Conclusion

Introduction

I have been searching for work for a while now, and I have realized this one expectation that many recruiters have, they want someone who is effective at multitasking. I have lived in a belief that multitasking is a myth and wrote on LinkedIn, that I feel like multitasking isn’t a good expectation to have. Many people agreed with me, yet many didn’t and this is why I decided to dive deeper into the whole multitasking world. What is multitasking? Is multitasking a threat or an opportunity?

What is multitasking?

Multitasking when speaking about humans, is when we do many things at the same time. This could be cooking, trying to take care of your kids and answering an email or what ever your life forces you to do.

What are the threats of multitasking?

Despite being well meaning, multiple studies have noted that multitasking can hinder ones productivity and isn’t actually as effective as expected. Some studies like 2009 Standford Univeristy study by Clifford Nass shows that multitaskers were actually less organized. It was harder for them to see the crucial details compared to non crucial ones. Another study (Bryan College) found that peoples productivity suffered from trying to multitask costing up to $450 million per year.

The issue with the concept of multitasking, is that people believe that they are actually doing more than one task at the same time, which isn’t possible. The brain needs to switch from task to task which requires quite a lot of effort. Mostly this is an issue if you are working on something hard. Since as we know certain things we can do at the same time, talk and walk, breath and move our hands etc.

The benefit or negative impact that multitasking has on productivity is subjective and depended on the task at hand

Rachel Gauthier

The issue comes when we try to force our brain to do many difficult things at once. “Multitasking can hurt efficiency for couple reasons: It takes time to switch between gears, and the process of switching ‘working sets’ of information can lead to errors and mistakes. Being efficient at multitasking really means trying to make those costs as small as possible”. Bob Schafer, VP of research at Lumosity states.

Bryan Collage study also has noticed millennials changing platform to platform up to 27 times per hour. There has been proof of even IQ lessening by 15 points during cognitive tasks and even emotional intelligence and brain density suffering. This for me is at least not surprising. I recognize the need to check one thing then think of another and so on.

Multitasking at a café
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash and Quote from Times article

Now some argued in my comment section on LinkedIn that there is no such things as concentrating on one thing 100% and that certain jobs like working at a café or bar could require you to multitask. And this is true, however, I would also argue that is the more different task one person has to keep track of at once the more mistakes there will be. For example: a barista has to make a cocktail for 10 people they would have way more risks in making a mistake than if they only have to serve 3 people. Also making 10 cocktails that are all the same will be way easier than to to make 10 different ones. On top of all this if you know the cocktails well its easier to do it as if automatically, rather than something you have never done before. Same thing in a café while making lattes. Or being a baker and waiting for the batter to rise while you decorate the cake. There is a reason why we have alarms and reminders set. So we actually remember to do things we are “doing” at the same time.

The neuroscience has proven over and over again that we thrive of doing one thing at a time. Only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively. Not only is multitasking mentally exhausting it could be potentially life threatening (e.g. texting and driving). While multitasking we lose out attentiveness, we hinder our learning and we lose our mindfulness.

Remember this the next time you’re tackling two tough tasks simultaneously.

 CYNTHIA KUBU AND ANDRE MACHADO 

Is multitasking all bad?

This is a matter of perception. What do we count as multitasking? For example is taking notes and listening to a lecture a task or two? We can apparently form tasks better if we thing we are multitasking, because we make more effort to not make mistakes. Those who see taking notes and listening as one easy task, don’t do as well on it.

While this idea doesn’t take away the countless research done before on the negative effects of multitasking (the actual one where we try to do too many difficult tasks at once) it does show that the idea of multitasking can be motivating. And I actually have seen this in myself too. I love the idea of being efficient and for someone reason we live in a society that has romanticized multitasking.

In conclusion

So? Multitasking- a threat or an opportunity?

Unless a task is automatic, like breathing and driving a car or walking and talking, it most likely will cost us in our productivity if we try to force it to work with other tasks. This is why at least for me, if I drive somewhere unknown and I need to see where to make a left turn, I will stop talking (but not breathing). If someone asks me to write an essay and give a speech at the same time, I won’t be able to do it.

I will however be able to make meeting notes while listening to the meeting. I will be able to write myself a reminder to do some other task after I’ve completed the one at hand. I’ll be able to answer a question while doing something …kinda, technically I will have to stop the task at hand and answer the question and get back to it. (See, multitasking seems to be a myth)

I would argue that word multitasking is just wrong for what we try to explain with it. We need to come up with another word to explain that we can do many things intertwined with each other, and the more they are similar to one another the better.

Recruiters, I hope that by multitasking you mean the capacity to write a post-it note for a task that you need to do right after you written an email to someone. Because in that case, I also am great at multitasking! It better not be the idea that someone can write two emails and have a phone call at the same time. Cos then, sorry but our paths don’t cross, and honestly that’s sad cos I do love working hard and I would be a great addition to your team.

You do you boo

If you think you can multitask and you honestly feel you need to in order to be happy, successful, etc. Be my guest, and if you actually are a great multitasker, I am just a little bit envious of you. But if everyone who reads this says they are… then I’ll call bs, cos 2.5% of the population isn’t much…

As always thanks for reading! Hope you liked this post. It was slightly different than what I usually write. Don’t hesitate to comment!

Here is a link to a post about things you should stop right now….multitasking should be on the list 😉

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Personal development, Reading and Books

Why wait for tragedy? Change now!

We live in a society that has it all! Information at our fingertips on your phones, libraries with books from the floor to the ceiling. We have internet to contact our mentors, either through books or perhaps if you are daring enough by sending them a message on LinkedIn.

Waiting for a tragedy to wake up

For some reason we decide to change the most the next week, or the next year. And quite often when something bad happens like losing a parents or getting into an accident. The shock of the tragedy just wakes us up, and we get moving. But do we actually need to wait for the New Year? Or that car crash? Of course not. The best thing for us, is to commit to making our lives the best we can today. Just because we actually deserve to be happy.

I’ve written on this subject before. But I wanted to get more into depth on this. Instead of just telling you to try something new and to write down your goals, let’s get really really deep on this! Brain and psychology deep? Sound interesting? Let’s go!

The science and Moran Cerf

Moran Cerf is a bank robber/hacker (it was an actually paid job, not criminal behavior I promise) turned neuroscientist. He has done major research on how the brain works and how to change behavior. He is also well into the research of dreams and so much more. I have seen his amazing interview on Tom Bilyeu’s show as well as his speech on training the brain. Both of those were extremely informative. If you want more data, see his own speech and if you need more info on how to make changes yourself, watch the interview with Tom.

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Here are some facts. The easiest most active way we can change our habits, are by activating your brain during the sleep, long sleep to be more specific. What this looks like, that right at the right moment, you will either use smells, words or the like, to make the brain file away information in a certain way. For example, if you want to stop smoking; someone would sprits nicotine into your brain, and right after that something that smells horrid. Your brain will make a connection right away, that smoking is bad, after a while of doing this, the result stays. You can affect your brain in other ways too, nutrition, medications, exercise and so much more.

My idea

There are other studies that show that you are more likely to remember things with high emotions attached to them. Anger, sadness happiness etc. this brings me to a theory, that I haven’t checked and I am not sure if anyone else has, but we will see if it works for us! So as I want myself to learn more and study more on various different subjects, I will use studying as an example, but you can chose what ever you want to change in your life. I am using positive things to change my attitude to studying but if you want to stop doing something you can use a negative enforcer. Ok? Let’s go!

Right before you start studying for something (or doing sports etc) watch something that will lift your spirits, a good comedian, a strip of Tom and Jerry cartoon if you a re a kid at heart like me, anything along those lines. Right after that start studying. Try to think of funny ways of remembering the things your are studying. (e.g Never Eat Soggy Waffles = North, East, South, West) Once you are about to go to sleep, try to read through these fun notes you have made yourself (or listen to them if you made them in an audio version) Once you have done all of this try tho get yourself into a very happy mood. I suggest not really watching or reading anything new, but just elevate your emotions. Then go to sleep.

Now I have again now studies on how this will work. But based on the studies done on how memories are formed and how mood affects those memories, I think it is safe to assume your are more likely to remember those things. Like I said I want to get a positive connotation to studying in my brain that why I use humor and joy to remember those things, if you want to stop eating certain foods, I guess banging your leg against the corner of a table could work… or going to eat that food next to the trash… I mean depending on how desperate you are to change a habit, you will do a lot for it right?

My idea is this, that while you get yourself into a better mood while you study (or do other things you normally wouldn’t want to do) you are able to remember things better but ALSO able to trick your brain into actually liking the process of studying or doing sports etc. Two flies with one hit.

Your turn!

What I would love for all of you lovely readers to do is, test this theory (actually properly not just once half assed) and tell me how it went. What worked what didn’t and why do you think it didn’t? I will be doing this myself as well!

Can’t wait to hear from you guys, as always thanks for reading and I appreciate any feedback I get! I am going to link more resources below so you can learn about changing yourself, without having to wait for a tragedy to strike! Happy learning! Happy autumn everyone!

Resources for further learning:

Psychology of invention, How hobbies can boost productivity and creativity, Neuroscience; rewiring the brain

(Would you like me to react on these articles? Maybe give my own advice that is more catered into our “normal” lives? If so, leave a comment down below )