Some moms “wear” their ability to multitask like a badge of honor. They seem to take pride in how much they can do, or get done, all at the same time.
Yet, is the ability to be a multitasking master something to be proud of at all? Or could multitasking too much and too often be setting them up for big problems down the road?
A recent study done by Stanford University contends that very idea is true. Research is now showing multitasking may be creating permanent damage to body and brain.
Multitasking Makes You Less Productive
Most of the time, we multitask because we think it helps us get more done. Doing three things at once has to be more efficient, right?
This study proved that idea false. If anything, it makes us less productive. It reduces recall and diminishes our ability to pay attention. Furthermore, it makes us more prone to mistakes.
But I’m Gifted—Surely I’m the Exception?
However, the downfalls of multitasking don’t apply to you, right? You’re different, aren’t you?
In truth, it’s quite the opposite. This study also demonstrated that the very ones who thought they were multitasking rock stars, were worse at it than people who typically do one thing at a time.
Those who considered themselves excellent multitaskers instead had problems organizing their thoughts, couldn’t filter out irrelevant information and didn’t switch between tasks efficiently.
Regardless of what we think we individually can or can’t do, the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Trying to make it do more, is an exercise in futility. In fact, attempting to do this repeatedly and routinely, over time, diminishes the brain’s capacity to focus on anything.
Multitasking Lowers IQ
Consequently, the Stanford Study proved, this abuse to the brain muscle is cumulative and long-term. According to a University of London study, episodically, the effects of multitasking are similar to smoking marijuana or being up all night regarding IQ. There is about a 15-point drop.
However, over time, this temporary damage may become more permanent. Brain scans show that in self-proclaimed frequent multitaskers, density is reduced in areas of the brain that manage empathy and emotional control. Further studies must be done to determine if this damage ever reverses itself, but that would also be dependent on whether the multitasking behavior ever ceases as well.
Obviously, much more research needs to be done to prove for certain whether the damage from multitasking is long-term. On the other hand, even the risk of long-term danger should be scary. Not to mention, as the Stanford study showed, it’s not even beneficial in the short-term. Much more advisable is learning, practicing, and perfecting strategies for being more productive and getting more done in the time you do have. Yet, still doing one thing at a time. That’s a much better option than multitasking, all the way around.