Think You’re a Productive Multi-tasker?? Think Again…
With all the distraction out there—e-mail, music, phone calls, and texting—it’s easy to think we’re doing a lot of things at once and doing them well or being productive on major tasks or projects. A slew of studies, one of the most recent done by M.I.T., say otherwise. Our brains are just not geared toward doing too many things all at once, especially tasks that require the same part of the brain to accomplish, such as talking and writing. Sure we can walk and chew gum and listen to music at the same time, but walking is so ingrained in us that it takes little conscious thought to do. Listening to music is generally a passive endeavor and chewing gum a mindless task.
Yes, there are a few people who can genuinely keep track of and successfully complete multiple tasks seemingly at once or in rapid succession, but most of us need to focus on one thing at a time. That’s not to say a lot of people can’t switch their focus quickly, but that’s where the myth of multi-tasking takes root. People think they’re juggling several things at once, and maybe they are, but they’re focusing on and completing a single task in the grand scheme of things before moving onto the next. But there also comes a saturation point.
For me personally, I make much better progress on certain things when I’m not answering phones and being interrupted every five minutes, when I can focus my attention on that one task and get into a rhythm and go, go, go.
Do you consider yourself a multi-tasker, or are you just proficient at shifting your focus?