Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to do more than one task at a time? I certainly have, but I think so have you. This is a thing called „Multitasking“. Why does it deserve to have its own article, you may ask? I am going to tell you the exact reason.
We all multitask sometimes, whether it's singing and dancing at the same time, or doing 2 homeworks simultaneously. It doesn't matter. But what matters are the effects it leaves on people who do it. There are numerous studies about it, so I'm going to let you know about some of them. Feel free to leave any additional comments you may have, and read carefully.
There are emotional costs
Based on the University of London's research, it came to examiners’ attention that interruptions caused by multitasking can increase feelings of stress and frustration by subjective and physiological measures.
They also stated that, even though it would be ideal to stop the interruptions from occurring, it is not easy to do that, and is sometimes not possible.
“However, in practice, it might not always be possible to avoid interruptions altogether. Simple changes to the timing of interruptions might then have a significant effect on the extent to which participants have negative feelings about interruptions.”
There are cognitive costs
Continuing with the analysis of the University of London's research, it's clearly said that multitasking even has cognitive costs. They say costs come because switching between tasks requires people to make changes to the physical and mental states of the human being.
“The operations required to make these changes take time and resources and thereby affect performance. For example, in the case of interruptions, we know that when interruptions are particularly long or taxing, people find it harder to resume their original task (Mark, Voida, & Cardello, 2012; Monk, Trafton, & Boehm-Davis, 2008); that people find it easier to recover after interruptions that are relevant to their current activity…and that interruptions are less disruptive when they occur at subtask boundaries.”
Why do people multitask?
Yes, it is hard not to do it when you have a lot of work to do, but it really has some negative consequences.
Why people continue multitasking is actually a pretty good question. If you carefully read what was said before, you can see what might happen. But why do we still do it? Is it an urge to work and finish everything early, or is it something we are forced to do because we are not doing our work on time? Is it these two combined? Maybe. But let’s not guess, let’s go straight to the point by analyzing another point from the University of London’s research.
Researchers stated that in several settings multitasking and replying to interruptions might be considered adaptive and logical even though the costs are incurred.
Let’s have an example, shall we? A medic moving from one patient to the next incurs a variety of costs (e.g., moving wards, changing gloves, reading charts) but such moving is entirely rational if a patient requires emergency attention.
In other settings, individuals may alternate activities if they feel they're making inadequate betterment on their common activity or because changing missions may show several new or handy information.
In yet other situations, people switch simply because they are bored. In monotonous tasks, in particular, occasional multitasking can improve vigilance.
This was all stated by previously mentioned research, which you can additionally read after you finish reading this one – do not multitask! 😊
How Not to be Inefficient Without Multitasking
Multitasking might be a hard thing to get rid of, but it certainly is not impossible. As I did before, I'm going to give you some recommendations on how to be efficient without it.
Equally distribute time. This was mentioned in my article about things to know before the school year starts. In this case, just distribute the time equally for every task you have.
For example, spend 20 minutes per task. The thing that needs to be known here is that you have to give your full attention to it! So, no thinking about the other tasks, not worrying about them, or anything – just work on that one and do not mind the other ones.
While it's forgiven to those who multitask, and as it's falsely considered just a positive thing, try not to multitask when you can. It's better to do 1 best task than 3 average ones, right?
Personally speaking, its outcome has been positive sometimes, but mostly negative – not enough focus, constant stress, and badly-done work overall. Avoid it when you can, and you will be fine.
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*An Article was prepared and written by Balša Kićović, Textual Content Creator