Negative impacts of multi-tasking

July 2, 2017

A Finnish friend asked me what i thought about the ongoing debate about who between men and women are better at multi-tasking. Of cause gauging the male and female friends i know, either of the gender has the ability to do more than two things at once. But what I do believe is that overall, women are better at multi-tasking than men. My belief is based on facts as most of the studies I’ve come across shows that productivity among women is higher than men and they continue to do the majority share of household and childcare tasks, while also holding down work. Numerous studies conducted over the last few years are proving that working on more than one task at a time can actually result in decreased productivity and increased stress levels. Studies has shown that in some cases, multi tasking people were up to 40 per cent less efficient when working on multiple tasks at once than if they were asked to focus their attention on only one task at a time.Multitasking also results in work taking longer to complete, due to the switching costs associated with constantly needing to refocus attention. When an individual try to focus on multiple projects at once, their brain essentially splits its cognitive ability to try to accommodate the different activities. Recent studies have also shown that the more complex the tasks, the harder it will be for brain to switch between the two. Multitaskers are also at risk of increased stress from trying to tackle too many things at once, and the after-effects of multitasking can lead to a lack of focus. In most people’s cases, their brains are busier than ever before. Some spend all their time tweeting, emailing and watching online videos or television, all at the same time. This means multitasking is one of the most damaging illusions of the internet age. In fact, according to my Finnish friend, multitasking doesn’t really exist, it’s a pernicious illusion.He believes that people are not meant to be pondering and solving complicated problems in a fight or flight situation.He says that although people doing all these things at once but the brain doesn’t work that way. Every now and then people switch to another thing, and they are paying attention to one thing and then the next and then the next and then they come back around again to the first.

In one of the studies i came across last year, multitasking has neurobiological cost because it degrades essential neuroresources that individuals need for actually doing things and thinking things. People have to chose whether informations goes to striatum, a brain region that stores new procedures and skills, rather than facts and ideas or it goes into the hippocampus, where it is archived in a variety of ways, making it easier to retrieve.Studies show that when multitasking, there is a structure in the brain that allows people to switch between different modes. It is located in the part of the brain called the insula located at the very top of head, about an inch below the surface and its responsible for all task switching. Each time an individual switch in what scientists call attentional set, what an individual is focusing on burns up glucose. There is also a switch in the brain called neurochemical switch and the glucose gets burned up when a person switch tasks, and the glucose is in limited supply.Whenever we feel depleted and tired it’s because we have literally depleted glucose source.What follows is cortisol, the stress hormone, is released as a result. That clouds our thinking. According to scientists, it shuts down higher cognitive activity. Cortisol is associated with the fight or flight reaction. As human beings we are not meant to be pondering and solving complicated problems in a fight or flight situation. My Finnish friend believes there’s a fundamental principle of neuroscience behind such. In his view, the brain is a giant change detector and in today’s world, brains are hungrily soaking up information and any change in the environment registers. If a person don’t want to focus on the external environment, but they are focused on their own stuff, being in the same environment is very helpful.Multitasking can have other negative effects on a person daily life that may be hard for them to even realise. Short-term memory loss, relationship problems, overeating, and reduced creativity can all stem from trying to do too many things at once. Studies have shown that people who believe they are great at multitasking are often the worst at completing multiple tasks at the same time.Improving time management skills, rather than focusing on multitasking ability, will help to actually be more productive, and not just look like you are accomplishing everything at once.

Contador Harrison