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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Multi-tasking is NOT good

I believe many people will comment to this topic as “not right”, because, we still feel that multi-tasking is a kind of act to accomplish more than one tasks simultaneously. So, in other words, if one can do many things at a time, things will virtually be completed at the same time, which means shorter total time. More completed tasks in shorter times equates to more efficient.

However, there is hidden cost in the “multi-tasking” act. Scientific studies have revealed that “multi-tasking” equates to “more time lost”. How could that be?

*Quoted from: http://www.apa.org/releases/multitasking.html
Whether people toggle between browsing the Web and using other computer programs, talk on cell phones while driving, pilot jumbo jets or monitor air traffic, they're using their "executive control" processes -- the mental CEO -- found to be associated with the brain's prefrontal cortex and other key neural regions such as the parietal cortex. These interrelated cognitive processes establish priorities among tasks and allocate the mind's resources to them. "For each aspect of human performance -- perceiving, thinking and acting -- people have specific mental resources whose effective use requires supervision through executive mental control," says Meyer.

So, when looking into multi-tasking, it’s not really multi-tasking. It’s actually task-switching. This means, in our brains, it’s deciding on what to be performed at the particular time, while other tasks are in queue (we are actually having side thought about other tasks, but not performing them yet). When we decided to switch to another task, there’s a time-lost and efforts in switching from one concentration to another unrelated task. And it often takes longer time to switch to another more complicated task.

Maybe you want to say you are making a call while driving. They are two tasks at the same time. Well, actually, our brain is working hard in switching tasks in split seconds to perform the two. Virtually, can’t notice the switching, and consider as two tasks simultaneously.
Well, studies have also shown that making phone calls while driving (even on hands-free) will increase traveling time. Don’t you think so? You may want to try (not advisable). Nevertheless, even talking to passengers while driving will increase traveling time.

*Rule activation itself takes significant amounts of time, several tenths of a second -- which can add up when people switch back and forth repeatedly between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem more efficient on the surface, but may actually take more time in the end.

I personally agree with this finding. I prefer focusing on a subject and get it done first before doing another unrelated thing. Sequence and prioritize the tasks to be exact. I feel that I can concentrate better and absorb the knowledge from the subject better when really just doing it. Therefore, it comes to time management in the end. How do we manage time to cope with different tasks, such as work, to meet their datelines.

Some findings even said that multi-tasking makes people dumb. Well, it’s a bit strong to say that. I would say, it makes people less skilled at the tasks they are doing. This also equates to lower quality for each task completed through multi-tasking act.
This is related to concentration a person put on the subject. One cannot put full concentration and efforts on a subject when doing or thinking of doing other things.

But one thing for sure for human lives these days is…we can never avoid multi-tasking act. It’s just a matter of how conscious are we towards carrying out the multi-tasks and how much can we avoid it from causing us risks which may follow.

Referemces:
http://www.apa.org/releases/multitasking.html
http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2006/03/multitasking_ma.html

1 comment:

JOHN said...

Concentration is where a genius comes from...