Does Multitasking Really Work? Can It Help You Learn Better?

Multitasking is a false statement. It implies that it is possible to perform more than one task at any specific point in time. This is not true, but to call it multi-switching-between-actions would be too long, I suppose.

Essentially, multitasking means to switch from one task to another very quickly. You can picture multitasking like this. Imagine you had two severe cuts, one on your arm and one on your leg. Would it be more effective to attempt to stop the bleeding and bandage both of them at the same time, or to first handle one and then the other? Of course, if you were to try to handle them both at once, you will lose precious time switching from one to the other and lose a lot of blood before finishing the process.

Multitasking lowers your focus

Multitasking of most sorts is typically like this and it is best avoided, unless absolutely necessary. By switching from one task to another, you are straining yourself to readjust to two or more situations at once. Granted, you can practice multitasking, but you’d basically be practicing the speed in which your brain adjusts to the new task. This can be useful in extreme conditions, but it will never be useful in long-term results.

In learning, multitasking is pretty much pointless. Learning demands your full attention to absorb the matter at hand. When learning new information, multitasking can result in that information to be absorbed inaccurately. What’s worse, you are sure that you remembered it well, but you might be remembering false information and further solidifying it in your mind by believing it’s true.

It exhaust you quicker

Can you imagine if you were to sprint to work every day? Sure, you’d arrive on time to work and you’d get home sooner, but you’d be exhausted. Multitasking draws on your energy to adjust, and with every adjustment you need to invest a certain amount of energy. Thus, if you were to multitask the entire day, you would eventually be so exhausted that you’d be unable to go on without a serious break.

Multitasking doesn’t provide better results

By dividing your attention, you are prone to making more mistakes, you do less work in one specific field and you do not develop your ability for that specific task. Granted, you do sometimes require a challenge to test your skills, but there is a fine limit in doing so.

A test of your skills would be seeing if you can, say, make a sandwich with a blindfold on. But the way multitasking tests your abilities would be the equivalent of putting a blindfold on your eyes and only allowing you to use your feet. If you want to test your abilities, go for time-restricted activity rather than how many different tasks you can do at once.

It generates false confidence

For an example of how dangerous false confidence can be, take a look at alcohol. It makes you believe you can conquer the world, which is not quite true when you sit behind the wheel and think “that truck has nothing on me!”

People rely on multitasking when they pick up the phone while driving. This especially terrifying because they believe they have the situation under control. Even calling while driving is a form of multitasking. People think that they’re safe when they use speaker, but even then, their attention is divided and can result in slower reaction speed.

All in all, multitasking is an excellent method to use for short term results. But when it comes to learning new content, or performing specific actions, in the long term sense it is very straining and provides no real benefits

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