Multi-tasking effects work performance

In my last post I talked about the struggles that come when trying to multi-task and the common misconception of people multi-tasking.  As I shared before, the brain is clearly capable of multi-tasking because it performs so many functions at one time subconsciously, but for people to consciously multi-task, it is a lot harder than you think.

Growing up I use to try and listen to music while I did my homework.  My parents would always freak out saying how its impossible to do homework when you’re listening to music, but I would argue with them that the music helps me stay focused and helps me complete my homework.

Turns out they were right.  The mind does amazing things and multiple tasks all at once, but it is all subconscious.  The mind can not consciously focus on more than one thing at once.  But we think we can and when we think we are multi-tasking, we’re really not.  We are just bouncing between two ideas and we think we are doing it simultaneously.  but really when you bounce back and forth between two ideas, both ideas start to blend or not make sense or can become construed.  So don’t even try multi-tasking, you might think you’re fine and are good at it, when really you don’t realize you physically can’t do it at all.

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5 Comments

  1. Wow, growing up I always would listen to music as well while during homework or watch television Even though I did not struggle in middle school or high school trying to multi-task. When I started college and more critical thinking skills was needed to complete homework assignments or study I realize I could not multi task. Great topic, I am interested to hear more. A lot of younger children in middle school are multi tasking. How do we make them aware that it is not beneficial in the future?

  2. This is so interesting because I actually still listen to music while doing homework. When I do listen to my homework and try to complete another task, I would like to think that it helps me focus more; however, it actually causes me to take longer to get the task done. You are completely right about how we can’t really multi-task because our minds are going back and forth between two different topics.

  3. When I was younger I used to be able to listen to music and do homework at the same time with no problem, but now I find that I cannot do that anymore. When I listen to music now to try and study and do homework I find myself getting distracted by the song, especially if it is a new one that I have never listened to before. I think it’s interesting to see how that has changed in a lot of people as they have grown up and how listening to music while doing work does help a lot of people, but not others.

  4. I agree as well when I was younger my parents would always say how can you listen to music and do work at the same time. I find now, in college it is very difficult. Depending on what I am working on. Copping notes or notecards, or tying an opinion paper I am fine to multitask. But when it comes to important papers, or one that require deep thought and analysis I find myself turning the music down or turing it off while I try to work out a problem, figure out a paragraph, or read from the textbook. Really insightful post.

  5. All throughout high school I could listen to music while doing my homework with no problem. I realized that when I got into college that it is almost impossible to multitask. It’s impossible to write a research paper or work on assignments that involve critical thinking with music in the background — I catch myself turning it off all the time. If i did try and listen to music while working on those types of assignments, i find myself taking longer to complete them or getting frustrated with everything all together.

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