Multi-tasking Is A Lie

The Human Brain is Very Different Than a Computer

What if I told you multi-tasking wasn’t a virtue, but a practice that could be holding you back from success?

Let’s face it… modern life can be extremely distracting if you let it be—and maybe even if you don’t let it.  The constant updates from email, phone calls, social media, and all those interesting videos and articles that friends keep recommending can really put a drain on your focus.  Add TV and video or casual games to the picture, and the constant exposure to digital stimuli can be overwhelming.

As a result, we are constantly inundated with distractions.  Many of us call this “multi-tasking” but in reality, the research says that there is no multi-tasking.  Computers may have multiple processors, but human beings can only concentrate on one thing at a time.  What people call multi-tasking is actually switching between tasks quickly without getting as much done in a given time period.  This is a terribly inefficient practice.  It takes time to regain your focus each time you are interrupted from your task or you switch tasks.

People who try to multi-task have also been found to be distracted more easily than those who work on one thing at a time. A study published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance found that test subjects lost time every time they switched between tasks, and the more complex the tasks, the more time they lost.

Beyond the time lost on any one activity, this constant onslaught of cell phone vibrations, messages, Internet media, web videos, and social media create a constant state of anxiety and distraction.  As we acclimate to this level of constant stimulation, we crave it—constantly checking for messages in a vicious circle of distraction.  Like the famous frog in the pot who is gradually warmed to a boil, we don’t easily perceive how bad our life has become while we’re in the middle of it.