Multitasking – advantages and disadvantages
Multitasking is colloquially understood as performing various activities at the same time. For what? To achieve more, perform faster, to save time in all the tasks and duties that we have to fulfill. Multitasking appears to us as an amazing form of productivity, because we can finally take control of our own time, manage it according to specific needs.
Multitasking is a complex phenomenon, which requires a high level of attention in order to be able to carry out two (or more) activities simultaneously. It is often activated unconsciously, and quickly. Multitasking is performed by cognitive processes that manage individual activities and determine how, when, and with what priorities they are performed.
Multitasking as a mass phenomenon has also been favored by the speed with which technological devices have spread both in the workplace and in the private sector. Today we speak of multitasking media, which can be defined as performing two or more tasks, one of which implies the use of a technological medium. Laptops, smartphones, and tablets have made communication instant, tasks faster and in general have simplified many aspects of our daily lives, however creating an environment of enormous distractibility.
It is precisely from this observation that the need to study multitasking and the repercussions it can have on an individual’s cognitive functions emerges, in order to evaluate the consequences (positive/negative) on learning (e.g. school, university) and quality performance (e.g. productivity of a worker in a company).
What multitasking does to the brain
The multitude of tasks to be carried out at the same time means that they often perform worse in their efficiency than if we performed them in sequence. Even if we enter the area of quick switching from task to task, their overcrowding can still cause mistakes. Planning, organization, the focus will always be the key to proper productivity. Multitasking really reduces our performance because the brain can only focus on one thing at a time.
Multitasking increases the likelihood of making mistakes, especially when tasks require critical thinking. It is not bad when during ironing you are listening to a podcast, but have in mind that when performing important tasks you should minimalize all the distractors. In this way, you finish your task faster and flawless and can move to your next activity.