The idea that anyone can multitask effectively is one of the biggest lies foisted on American individuals and commerce. In the name of multitasking we forgo the sacred moments of intimacy, the joy of singular devotion to a project, and the uncluttered creativity of thinking. Efficiency becomes the new god in this mindset and all else falls under its dictatorial rule.
But aren't we being more efficient by multitasking? Not so fast.
A new study from the researchers at Stanford University confirms what many of us, who have been ignored by someone multitasking, already know; multitaskers, far from being efficient, are just multiplying the tasks they are doing badly. They are not completing any task or conversation to the best of their ability and multitasking makes them worse.
What Clifford Nass and other researchers discovered were three challenges that heavy multitaskers share. People who do a significant amount of multitasking can't seem to ignore irrelevant data to focus on what is important. They are more distracted than others. Surprisingly they also have a poorer ability to take in and organize information. Finally they had more of a difficulty switching from one task to another.
Of course the argument is that younger and younger generations are growing up multitasking and so they will be better at it. Again that is false. The research studied young men and women who use various electronic means simultaneously and have grown up with it.
Perhaps all of us need to push back on the notion that any individual can do two separate cognitive activities equally as well. And as we move toward greatness, we need to give ourselves the opportunities to savor and revel in sacred moments of intimacy, the joy of singular devotion to a project, and the uncluttered creativity of thinking.