Author Topic: Is multitasking really a myth?  (Read 85 times)

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Offline Emma286

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Is multitasking really a myth?
« on: May 22, 2018, 03:29:52 AM »
I know there are mixed views out there on this.

This is because I’m aiming to get into paid reception work and think that it’s likely that I’m often going to be coming across job advertisements (once I’m at the stage of applying for jobs) that ask for a good ability to do this.

Trouble is this is an area where I have never been good. In fact, I would say I’m outright poor with it. I’m currently having a hard time working out if this is actually pretty normal (given that people are not designed to multi task the best maybe) or if it’s the case that this is a real genuine talent that some people have that I don’t!

Offline stuffin

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2018, 08:01:23 AM »
Quote
“This steady and undissipated attention to one object, is a sure mark of a superior genius; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind.”

https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-myth-of-multitasking


Quote
We sacrifice our power of full presence when we're multitasking, and we do so for a perceived benefit of improved productivity that simply doesn't exist.

Research indicates that multitaskers are actually less likely to be productive, yet they feel more emotionally satisfied with their work, thus creating an illusion of productivity.

This bears repeating. Forget for a moment that multitasking can be incredibly rude, we're not actually accomplishing what we think we are--we've been fooling ourselves.

In fact, research also shows that multitasking, i.e. trying to do two cognitive things at the same time, simply can't be done--the mind doesn't work that way. Even trying to parallel path a cognitive activity and a more automatic activity doesn't really work. That's why the National Transportation Safety Board reports that texting while driving is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.

We believe we're effective at multitasking when in reality we're good at what researchers call "task-switching".

https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/psychology-and-neuroscience-blow-up-the-myth-of-effective-multitasking.html

Quote
Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creativity-without-borders/201405/the-myth-multitasking

I am totally against multitasking. Once when my boss told me I need to be able to 2 things at the same time I told she needs to pay me like I'm 2 people and double my salary. She wasn't very happy.
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Offline Nick

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 08:08:21 AM »
It just comes down to being organized.  Have a small to do notebook and just plug along.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2018, 08:50:28 AM »
I know there are mixed views out there on this.

This is because I’m aiming to get into paid reception work and think that it’s likely that I’m often going to be coming across job advertisements (once I’m at the stage of applying for jobs) that ask for a good ability to do this.

Trouble is this is an area where I have never been good. In fact, I would say I’m outright poor with it. I’m currently having a hard time working out if this is actually pretty normal (given that people are not designed to multi task the best maybe) or if it’s the case that this is a real genuine talent that some people have that I don’t!

IMO, the claim of "multitasking" is complete BS.   One can switch from project to project, but doing two at the same time?  Nonsense.   What is a more important skill is knowing where one can stop and then switch gears to get another project going until, again, you can find a logical place to halt.   

I've been on a bunch of interviews recently, and they always ask about multitasking and working for multiple people. I tell them that I work with various supervisors to know their deadlines, and where I can get them to before I may have to switch off to another task. 

I'm really getting to hate these rote HR questions.   :)
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

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Offline wright

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2018, 11:34:00 AM »
I think the article stuffin linked to nailed it, Emma. Multitasking as popularly understood is a myth: some people may be good at quickly refocusing their attention from one task to another, but performing two or more at the same time just isn't how the mind works.

The misunderstanding / wishful thinking probably comes from the discovery of how incredibly redundant our brains / minds are in some ways, such as people managing to recover from drastic trauma / surgery to the brain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemispherectomy#Results

From that link:
Quote
When resecting the left hemisphere, evidence indicates that some advanced language functions (e.g., higher order grammar) cannot be entirely assumed by the right side. The extent of advanced language loss is often dependent on the patient's age at the time of surgery.[24] One study following the cognitive development of two adolescent boys who had undergone hemispherectomy found that “brain plasticity and development arise, in part, from the brain’s adaption of behavioral needs to fit available strengths and biases…The boy adapts the task to fit his brain more than he adapts his brain to fit the task.”[25] Neuroplasticity after hemispherectomy does not imply complete regain of previous functioning, but rather the ability to adapt to the current abilities of the brain in such a way that the individual may still function, however differently the new way of functioning is.
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Offline Emma286

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 11:45:06 AM »
Quote
“This steady and undissipated attention to one object, is a sure mark of a superior genius; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind.”

https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-myth-of-multitasking


Quote
We sacrifice our power of full presence when we're multitasking, and we do so for a perceived benefit of improved productivity that simply doesn't exist.

Research indicates that multitaskers are actually less likely to be productive, yet they feel more emotionally satisfied with their work, thus creating an illusion of productivity.

This bears repeating. Forget for a moment that multitasking can be incredibly rude, we're not actually accomplishing what we think we are--we've been fooling ourselves.

In fact, research also shows that multitasking, i.e. trying to do two cognitive things at the same time, simply can't be done--the mind doesn't work that way. Even trying to parallel path a cognitive activity and a more automatic activity doesn't really work. That's why the National Transportation Safety Board reports that texting while driving is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.

We believe we're effective at multitasking when in reality we're good at what researchers call "task-switching".

https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/psychology-and-neuroscience-blow-up-the-myth-of-effective-multitasking.html

Quote
Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creativity-without-borders/201405/the-myth-multitasking

I am totally against multitasking. Once when my boss told me I need to be able to 2 things at the same time I told she needs to pay me like I'm 2 people and double my salary. She wasn't very happy.

I bet! Were you still able to keep your job?

Offline Emma286

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 11:48:39 AM »
It just comes down to being organized.  Have a small to do notebook and just plug along.

Appreciate your trying to help Nick. All too often I’ve found that while that’s a good start to things, additional time management approaches tend to be needed for that in office support jobs. Thanks again anyway!  8)

Offline Emma286

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 12:13:44 PM »
I know there are mixed views out there on this.

This is because I’m aiming to get into paid reception work and think that it’s likely that I’m often going to be coming across job advertisements (once I’m at the stage of applying for jobs) that ask for a good ability to do this.

Trouble is this is an area where I have never been good. In fact, I would say I’m outright poor with it. I’m currently having a hard time working out if this is actually pretty normal (given that people are not designed to multi task the best maybe) or if it’s the case that this is a real genuine talent that some people have that I don’t!

IMO, the claim of "multitasking" is complete BS.   One can switch from project to project, but doing two at the same time?  Nonsense.   What is a more important skill is knowing where one can stop and then switch gears to get another project going until, again, you can find a logical place to halt.   

I've been on a bunch of interviews recently, and they always ask about multitasking and working for multiple people. I tell them that I work with various supervisors to know their deadlines, and where I can get them to before I may have to switch off to another task. 

I'm really getting to hate these rote HR questions.   :)

Good point there Velkyn. What would you say helped you gain that skill to a good standard?

I’ve got that joy most likely coming (when eventually I try to interview for receptionist roles). I’m already dreading it. :-( I don’t blame you for hating those questions!
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 12:34:27 PM by Emma286 »

Offline Emma286

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 12:32:17 PM »
I think the article stuffin linked to nailed it, Emma. Multitasking as popularly understood is a myth: some people may be good at quickly refocusing their attention from one task to another, but performing two or more at the same time just isn't how the mind works.

The misunderstanding / wishful thinking probably comes from the discovery of how incredibly redundant our brains / minds are in some ways, such as people managing to recover from drastic trauma / surgery to the brain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemispherectomy#Results

From that link:
Quote
When resecting the left hemisphere, evidence indicates that some advanced language functions (e.g., higher order grammar) cannot be entirely assumed by the right side. The extent of advanced language loss is often dependent on the patient's age at the time of surgery.[24] One study following the cognitive development of two adolescent boys who had undergone hemispherectomy found that “brain plasticity and development arise, in part, from the brain’s adaption of behavioral needs to fit available strengths and biases…The boy adapts the task to fit his brain more than he adapts his brain to fit the task.”[25] Neuroplasticity after hemispherectomy does not imply complete regain of previous functioning, but rather the ability to adapt to the current abilities of the brain in such a way that the individual may still function, however differently the new way of functioning is.

I’m inclined to agree Wright. Multi tasking is really task switching - it’s not truly doing two or more tasks at once.

It does seem that some of the time I am able to task switch pretty quickly - but only when it comes to very familiar simple quick task types that I could practically do in my sleep. Otherwise I struggle.

You may well have a point on what you said on people overestimating the brains ability.

I get the impression that the wishful thinking also stems from the fact that a number of employers out there like the idea of a staff member doing the job of at least two people (if not more) - as it’s less pay for more work from their point of view. It’s also extra profit for them. :-(




Offline velkyn

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Re: Is multitasking really a myth?
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 01:53:03 PM »
Good point there Velkyn. What would you say helped you gain that skill to a good standard?

I’ve got that joy most likely coming (when eventually I try to interview for receptionist roles). I’m already dreading it. :-( I don’t blame you for hating those questions!

thinking through the steps of a project, talking with who wants it done.  Then I can know what has priority. 
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

http://clubschadenfreude.wordpress.com/