Surely multitasking is necessary in today’s world, and especially so in university.
The reality is that when you dig a little deeper, those evenings spent studying, eating, texting, and listening to music are doing your poor brain a huge injustice.
Here’s what we know.
Why You Should Stop Multitasking
We may think we’re being terribly productive as we do all the things at the same time, but the opposite is true.
Not only does multitasking result in poorer performance in whatever it is that you’re doing, but it actually damages your brain. No, really.
One study conducted at Stanford has this to say.
Firstly, “We don’t multitask. We task switch. The word “multitasking” implies that you can do two or more things at once, but in reality, our brains only allow us to do one thing at a time and we have to switch back and forth.”
Okay, we’ve got that. What else?
“People who frequently use many types of media at once, or heavy media multitaskers, performed significantly worse on simple memory tasks.” And here’s the crux, “One possibility is that reduced working memory occurs in heavy media multitaskers because they have a higher probability of experiencing lapses of attention.”
The study showed that those who think they are great at multitasking perform worse than those who do one thing at a time. They battle to organise thoughts, filter out unwanted input, and end up switching slower between the many tasks that they have given themselves.
There’s more scary news though.
Another study from the University of London showed that the performance of multitaskers is akin to that of people who had not slept the night before or who had smoked marijuana and saw a sharp drop in IQ. So far, the evidence suggests that people who routinely multitask have less brain density in areas associated with emotional control and cognitive ability.
So, when it’s time to study, turn off those devices, sit in a quiet space, and do one thing at a time!