Health & Wellness / It’s Bad For Your Brain: Stop The Multitasking Madness

It’s Bad For Your Brain: Stop The Multitasking Madness

Health & Wellness Jun 13, 2018

Are you always busy? Does that lead you to try to multitask and complete two things at once? Does that actually save time? No! The idea multitasking helps save time is a myth and we’re here to bust it! We tell you why you need to stop the multitasking madness! 

With 1000 Bollywood movies released yearly, going to the cinema is a celebrated activity. Where do many movie lovers go upon entering the theater? Straight to the concession (aka snack) stand! Ever been eating your large popcorn and feel surprised when before the movie ends, it’s finished? How can we eat our whole snack without realizing it? Curious on why eating our snack goes unnoticed, we further explore the idea of doing two things at once, also known as multitasking.

 

What Is Multitasking?

Definitions vary but generally they are: “the concurrent performance of several jobs by a computer” and then “the performance of multiple tasks at one time.”

What stroke us most about this definition is it initially refers to a “computer.” Is multitasking is a functionality of technology that we’ve begun to humanize? Or, is it possible and productive for us to do it?

 

Is it Possible For Humans To Multitask?

Yes and no.

Yes, it is possible for our brains to do tasks at once. For example, we can breathe and walk at the same time. However, for the remainder of this piece, we’ll remove the automatic, neurological, tasks out of the equation and focus on conscious, optional actions (eating at the movies, texting during a conversation, etc.).

The no comes in when we attempt to complete conscious, multiple tasks that require equal attention. This may not be an issue when it comes to a movie and snack, (though it can lead to overeating, weight gain, etc.), however when it comes important tasks it can lead to problems.

 

Why Should We Avoid “Multitasking” And How Can We?

It’s not productive. Ever been trying to write an email and talk on the phone simultaneously? Your brain isn’t actually multitasking, it’s rapidly switching attention from task to task. Research demonstrates we can lose up to 40% in productivity.

How can you prevent productivity loss? Be less reactive to stimuli (e.g. if you’re writing an email and the phone rings, finish your email first). Check in with yourself every few hours to re-prioritize; what’s most important to complete? Remember just because your phone rings, it doesn’t mean you have to immediately answer; voicemail exists for a reason!

 

Stop The Multitasking Madness
Stop The Multitasking Madness: You’re not saving time if you’re losing quality. Photo credit: jamesclear.com

 

 

It Can Lead To Miscommunication.

So much of communication is already subject to interpretation. When we add attempting another task that requires focus (e.g. listening while writing an unrelated text message), it’s a recipe for disaster and can lead to misunderstandings.

Avoid being on your cell phone when you’re having a conversation (especially in a meeting); not only is being on your phone when others speak rude, your brain will not absorb everything being said (or you may text the wrong thing).

 

It Can Lead To Confidence Issues And/Or Stress.

When we set unrealistic expectations that we can do it all, we may be disappointed with ourselves and increase our stress levels. South Asian cultural expectations are already significantly high; we often operate in a realm of constant comparison on education, income, marriage, parenthood, etc. Though both genders face high expectations, the toll is exceptionally worse for South Asian women who may be faced with juggling both traditional cultural expectations and modern ones (e.g. being a wife who cooks fresh food everyday but also goes to work).

 

Stop The Multitasking Madness
 Stop The Multitasking Madness: You’re not a computer, close some task tabs! Photo credit: www.redbubble.com

 

What can you do to help yourself stop multitasking? Increase your awareness on when you’re doing it. When you start to attempt it, ask yourself; why are you trying to multitask? It the process is causing you stress? What task is actually most important? Remind yourself multi-tasking is not saving you time. You’re not a computer, designed to do it all at once; it’s okay to say no and/or take your time. Focus on quality over quantity of tasks and be gentle with yourself.

 

Main Image Photo Credit: www.abc.net.au  

 

Rachna Sethi

Rachna Sethi

Author

From evening parties to morning prayers, from corporate strategy to chocolate smuggling, Rachna has a thirst for living life with a work/play balance. After years in Management, Rachna packed her bags and moved to Europe for adventure, international work experience and the search for life&rsquo...

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