Don't buy the hype of multitasking, claim scientists. New evidence reveals that we humans are not as successful at achieving many tasks at once, as we believe we are doing. Yet it also shows a human talent that has provided humanity an evolutionary advantage.
The myth that we should multitask has never become higher since technology helps individuals to perform more things at the same time. But researchers claim it's still a myth, and to prove it, they have the evidence.
Only around 2% of the population could only juggle two tasks at once without seeing a drop in performance despite how much attention people have paid to multitask over the past few years.
While this may make us sound like we're super-efficient and get lots of work accomplished, what we're really doing is keeping us from working on all of those things because we're continually disturbed.
Is Multitasking a Delusion?
When yapping on the phone, we return e-mails. When traveling and listening to the radio, we arrange appointments. And it feels as though we are simultaneously working on all these jobs, as though we have been real masters by performing ten items at once.
But that's not, brain experts claim, necessarily the truth.
"People can't multitask very well, and when people say they can, they're deluding themselves," said neuroscientist Earl Miller. He told NPR the brain is very good at deluding itself.
Miller, MIT's Picower Professor of Neuroscience, claims we actually can't rely on more than one issue at a time for the most part.
What we should do, he said, is to change our attention with startling pace from one item to the next.
Miller said you're not actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time when jumping from assignment to assignment.
You don't pay attention to one or two items concurrently, but very easily move between them, he said.
Miller said that the brain needs to move between roles for many purposes. One being because identical activities are vying for the same portion of the brain to be accessed.
People can't concentrate on one task while performing the other, Miller said. He explained that there's an "interference" with the two jobs. For example, writing and talking all together could cause "a lot of friction."
Researchers claim that they can see the brain suffering, literally. And now they're trying to find out what's going on in-depth.
Role of Evolution
Experts say people are just not like cats, or dogs, or even apes when it comes to regulating how our brain reacts, and what it responds to. Weissman suggests that this capacity has actually developed to enable individuals who are very weak, mentally, to do something like hunting larger and heavier creatures.
According to Weissman, people had everything to look for and keep track of where their friends were. He continued that without the executive function in our frontal lobes, maintaining track of all such items would not be practicable.
Nevertheless, Weissman said there are plenty of species who hunt without these enhanced skills in the wild.
But multitasking, on the other hand, helps in some point. "That is why humans on the world have been dominant," Weissman added.
Dominant, and maybe too trusting in our own abilities. Studies suggest that our ability to perform several roles is often overestimated.
What Really Happens To Your Brain When You Multitask?
A study has found that the sort of 'switch-tasking' we do while we believe we're multitasking will contribute to a 40 percent drop in efficiency, in addition to taking its effect on our happiness rate. Constant multitasking may also have a detrimental influence on our mental wellbeing.
Indeed, researchers have shown that not only does doing several activities at once have the ability to raise our levels of stress. But multitasking may also increase our likelihood of depression and social anxiety and contribute in the long run to memory issues.
So quit the next time you catch yourself replying to e-mails while preparing a paper or listening to a Zoom conference. You're not only doing your efficiency a favor by taking a step back, shutting off the alerts and encouraging yourself to concentrate on one job at a time. You're actually taking control of your mental health.
Check out more news and information on the Brain on Science Times.