Is anyone else like me and think you can do two things at once and then realize you totally forgot what you set out to do? As I’m sure some of you can relate, multi-tasking is supposed to save time but it doesn’t always work out that way!
For example, I was recently looking at my smartphone in the elevator on my way to a doctor’s appointment, and instead of turning right when I got to my floor, which I’ve done dozens of times, I turned left. Speaking for myself, I think it’s just a product of our faster-paced world that eventually turned into a habit. Lots of us do it – watching television and leafing through a magazine at the same time or cooking dinner while having a chat with your daughter. What’s the worse that can happen when you are talking on the phone while picking out tile for my bathroom!?
There have been numerous stories written about multitasking, and daytime talk shows that touch on the subject, and we’ve all heard that it’s not good to do it. But am I going to stop? Well, I thought it was worth looking in to online.
First I found that some experts say that multitasking can cause you to overeat. Hmm…maybe that’s why I don’t remember eating a full plate of chocolate chip cookies when I was watching my favorite TV show! Clearly that is not a good habit for someone who is always trying to eat healthy.
I read that interrupting one task to suddenly focus on another can be enough to disrupt short-term memory. In 2011 when University of California San Francisco researchers asked participants to study one scene then switch to another, people aged 60 to 80 had a harder time disengaging from the second picture and remembering details about the first. As the brain ages, researchers say, it has a harder time getting back on track after even a brief detour. That’s a statistic that I cannot ignore!
Another story I read says that 98% of the population does not multitask well. That certainly is something to think about for safety reasons – particularly for people who want to text while driving.
The only (sort of) good news I could find about multitasking was that in one study, women were determined to be generally better at multitasking than men.