Do you think you are a multi-tasker? Well, it’s time to rethink that!
Do you also have the habit of reading and listening to some music? Or even texting in a meeting? These tasks are so mundane that we hardly think that we are multi-tasking. But indeed, even these count as multi-tasking.
Among many of the researches done in neuroscience, one of them tells us that our brain is not functioned to do tasks simultaneously. We think that it is possible for our brain to multi-task, when in reality it is just impossible. Although, what our brain does is switch through tasks really quickly. So when we are listening to music, and a text pops up and we proceed to reply to it, there is a quick start/stop process that goes on in the brain.
As quick as it may sound, it is in fact quite inefficient and time-consuming. With a start/stop process going on every few seconds, we tend to make more mistakes in which we end up spending more of our energy than required.
If you still can’t believe it, take this simple test.
- Take a piece of paper and draw horizontal lines on it.
- Now carry out the following two tasks while having someone time you-
- On the first line write- ‘I am great at multi-tasking’
- On the line below write down numbers from 1 to 20.
This is a simple process and will normally take you about 20 seconds. Now it’s time to multi-task.
- On a different piece of paper, draw some horizontal lines and have someone time you again this time.
- Only this time, write a letter on the first line and a number on the line below.
Meaning, first write ‘I’ on the first line, then write the number ‘1’ on the line below and so on and complete both the lines. And now observe the time taken. It will definitely take you double time as compared to the first round.
You would have made some errors and it will leave you more frustrated. It is because every time you switched from writing letters to numbers, you had to rethink what the next letter was or what the next number was. And this is exactly what happens each time we try to do many things at the same time.
The brain takes time to think on what the next task is, or what the previous task was every time you switch tasks. This obviously leads to many more mistakes and delays the time it would have taken originally. So the next time you are multi-tasking, note that you are just switching through different tasks really quickly. Instead, focus on just one task at a time, this will improve the efficiency of those tasks and will also cost you a little time.