Multi-tasking makes you stupid
(or, How to reduce your IQ, try multi-tasking)
"Workers distracted by e-mail and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more
than twice that found in marijuana smokers." This was the key finding of a 2005 study conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London.
The psychologist who led this study called this new "infomania" a
serious threat to workplace productivity.
more studies are showing the madness of multi-tasking.
In 1999 Canadian researcher Pierre Jolicoeur demonstrated our
brains "restricted attentional capacity".
That is, our brain can only deal efficiently with one set of inputs at a
research (August 2009) from Stanford has shown that frequent multi-taskers not
only make more mistakes, but they are also slower at multitasking than infrequent
multi-taskers. So multi-taskers are not only more error prone, they are slower
Why is this
so? What the researchers found is that one task interferes with another, so
everything takes longer because the brain loses time and accuracy in repeatedly
shifting effort. These innate computational inefficiencies within your brain
can result in 40 percent more time being needed for the same task (and still
have a less accurate result).
David Meyer from the University of Michigan also found that multi-tasking
contributes to the release of stress hormones and adrenaline, which can cause
long term health problems if not controlled.
Dr Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist who wrote a book called CrazyBusy
argues that multi-tasking "can be controlled only by creatively engineering
one's environment and one's emotional and physical health".
this mean for our daily life?
Recognising that multi-tasking is a problem is a
Setting boundaries for your
actions and the actions of people you work with or manage can make a
you could stop doing are:
and responding to emails as they come in throughout the day
frequent unplanned conversations either by phone or in person
immediate responses without prioritising on the basis of importance
you could start doing are:
when you work best through the day and allocating the more important work for
that time and conversely, using the times when you know you have less concentration
for more routine requirements
others for help to stop interruptions in times of high focus/concentration
the answer-phone more effectively; opening emails at set times
and keeping regular lunch and other breaks
- using prioritised
The key, as
much as possible, is to focus on one task at a time with a minimum of
This will help you to
become more efficient and less stressed.
You are welcome to click here to forward this article to a colleague who may find it useful, Thanks, Susan