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Ditch "Multitasking", It's a B*tch

by Shayne Hontiveros


October 22, 2015 | Curiosities

Photo credit: Tribune

“I multitask. I think everyone does, but I’m more efficient when I’m focused on one thing,” says Laura Bustamante, a Therapeutic Recreation student at Dawson College.

13 out of 20 Dawson College students admit that they do multitasking and four of them say that they finish more quickly when they multitask. “If I multitask with things I like, it all goes very fast,” says Irina Vitanova, a 3D Animation student. What Laura says is true. A person becomes more efficient and organized if he does one task at a time. On the other hand, what Irina said is considered to be a delusion, which the brain is very good at doing it to itself. “A large body of evidence supports this idea, that we all have experienced non-pathological delusional beliefs throughout our lifetime and even generally in day-to-day life,” says Carla Clark, PhD in her article, Are We All Schizophrenic? Part 1, Delusions.

In addition, studies prove that multitasking is just a myth. In a Inc. Magazine article, Earl Miller, a Picower Professor of Neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that “when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly,” and that decelerates the brain system and causes time-wasting. Originally, the term “multitasking” refers to a computer’s ability to do and finish multiple tasks, which is controlled by the Operating System, in the shortest time possible. Indeed, computers are made to work that way, but not the human brain. The prefrontal cortex is the analytical brain of a person. It is responsible in decision-making, problem solving, advanced work, and planning. Also, it controls the mental executive function such as switching focus and remembering details. In order to do all these, the brain needs enough energy and time. So when a person switches many times his attention from one task to another, he loses a large amount of time because the brain performs “gap,” when nothing happens in the brain but adjust from one to next task, and then “lag,” where it needs to reboot the information needed for the task, says Mike Sander, the author of the book Advanced Multitasking.

Furthermore, at the end, making mistakes is very high, the work quality lowers and the energy depleted that causes a person to feel exhausted. Also, multitasking can also cause cortisol, the stress hormone, which affects more the brain functions and the engagement with a task. Notwithstanding, Monica L. Smith, the author of A Prehistory of Ordinary People, says in UCLA Newsroom that “multitasking” is not bad at all and that actually separates humans from animals. In some cases, for example, doing the laundry and talking to a friend on a phone will not cause you any harm. However, driving and texting at the same time can put a life at risk. So be smart when to “multitask.’

In learning, multitasking is not advisable. “It takes me at least twice as long to finish things when I do try to multitask,” says Luna Uribe, a Cinema Video Communication student.
“I feel like when you have a task where your brain has to be fully involved, like you need super mega concentrations, multitasking would be way too much to me, like I would lose my concentration easily,” says Thérésa Le-Nhek, another Cinema Video Communication student.

In today’s technology, “multitasking” is very hard to ignore. Texting, emails, and social accounts notifications demand immediate attention. People lose control over them because they cause the brain “a burst of endogenous opioids,” according to an article published in The Guardian. After losing control, people decide to leave their task and switch to another one. Then, they lose time and energy to finish the priority.

Just like others things, “multitasking” can be prevented if a person will be committed to doing so and there are only few things to follow. Do not manage things at the same time, analyze your tasks by listing them on a sheet of paper, and prioritize one at a time. Validate them with your loved ones in any possible ways. Create queues to get engaged with the task, write the important points of that task and put it where you can easily see it. Following these tips will be a game changer. The brain will work well, the details will be remembered, and the time and energy will not be wasted. “Stop multitasking because you are not, anyway,” Sander says.

Please note that this article was falsely credited in Volume 45, Issue 2, of The Plant. Shayne Hontiveros is the correct author of this article.

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