Multitasking: You're Doing it Wrong

Last Updated Mar 11, 2011 7:33 PM EST

Multitasking is bad for your brainMaybe you're reading this blog while simultaneously g-chatting with a colleague, absentmindedly scrolling through the headlines online and also occasionally noting down the odd idea for today's meeting. If you would proudly offer this as evidence that you are a Gen Y multitasking ninja, you may be deluding yourself suggests recent research out of Stanford University. A group of researchers there found:
People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.
In a series of experiments, those that multitask regularly were found to be less able to screen out irrelevant information, focus and prioritize tasks. In short: they got less done. "When they're in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they're not able to filter out what's not relevant to their current goal," said psychology professor Anthony Wagner. "That failure to filter means they're slowed down by that irrelevant information."

What's the takeaway? That's simple: "maybe it's time to stop e-mailing if you're following the game on TV, and rethink singing along with the radio if you're reading the latest news online. By doing less, you might accomplish more," concludes the study.

(ADD image by chris.corwin, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.