The Myth of Multitasking

Multitasking is the attempt to perform two or more unrelated tasks at once. We all try it, but most of us fail. In fact, not only is it inefficient, it can also be harmful. By trying to multitask we often make more mistakes, take longer to accomplish a task, reduce our creativity and tire out our brains. This  affects our work life and how students learn. The video below explains how our brains can truly only focus on one task at a time.

If we can’t genuinely multitask, what can we do instead to maximize our efficiency? Health and wellbeing writer Janet Ungless in her article Multitasking Is a Myth. Here’s What to Do Instead, suggests three alternatives:

  1. Cultivate calm. When we try to multitask we are often stressed out. Instead, try a mindfulness meditation session to calm and focus the brain. If meditation isn’t your thing, studies have shown that listening to instrumental music can invoke a positive mood and help to achieve better focus.
  2. Make a productivity plan. Planning or listing the tasks of the day before diving in helps to lighten your cognitive load. And don’t forget to plan for breaks!
  3. Resist temptation. While concentrating on a task, try not to shift your attention to the email that just arrived or the text message you’ve received. By putting away your phone or turning off notifications on your computer, you choose to put your attention where it matters the most.

Learn More

Find out more about why multitasking is a myth and some techniques you can practice instead:

Now, does anyone know how to turn off a distracting kitten?

Kitten lying on its back under a computer monitor.

Related Blog Posts

Back to Basics: Text Structure

Learn how understanding text structures helps with reading comprehension and writing ability.

Tools and Techniques for Online Teaching

Last week we looked at some of the recent Tips for Teaching Remotely. Today, we’re sharing a collection of readings on tools and techniques for online teaching: Distance Learning: Improving …

The Jigsaw Method

What are the most effective teaching strategies? Research by John Hattie and Greg Donoghue indicates that it depends on a number of factors, including where students are in the learning …