For the longest time, I’ve prided myself in being a fantastic multitasker. I can sufficiently juggle multiple crazy tasks simultaneously, and still maintain some level of sanity. I often tease my hubby for his “inefficiency”—he’s excellent at performing singular tasks, but not so good at handling multiple concurrent demands (hence the recently burned pot of rice while trying to feed our baby girl).
But after listening to a webinar by Tony Schwartz—Creating a Workplace that Really Works—my understanding of multitasking has shifted.
We’re not wired to operate like computers
According to prevailing wisdom, multitasking is a myth (GASP). To quote John Medina, the author of Brain Rules:
Research shows that we can’t multitask. We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich inputs simultaneously.
And get this: multitasking reduces productivity.
So when I think I’m being efficient by cooking dinner, chatting with mom, doing laundry, checking email, and researching a project, all at the same time, I’m really just wasting my time.
So what then is “multitasking?”
Psychologists refer to multitasking as serial tasking. This means that rather than engaging in simultaneous tasks, me and every other proud multitasker is actually shifting from one task to another to another in rapid succession (Taylor 2011).
The key then is to understand the difference between multitasking and task switching. Task switching ultimately leads to decreased efficiency and productivity because each task tends to take longer to finish when multiple tasks are worked on concurrently as opposed to sequentially.
Why is multitasking a valued attribute in today’s society?
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light ~ Matthew 11:28−30
Although the ability to multitask is considered a desirable skill, it compromises our health and harms our productivity. Instead, when I’m faced with a gazillion tasks and am feeling weary and burdened, I turn to Jesus. I center myself in Him who promises to give me rest; whose yoke is easy and burden light.
Do you think multitasking is real? What has been your experience with multitasking?
- Technology: Myth of Multitasking
- Creating a Workplace that Really Works
- Is the Multitasking Myth Hurting Your Productivity? (bizsugar.com)