You’re Not Multi-tasking – You’re Futzing Around

OK, let’s say you’re a kid.  You’re doing homework, listening to music, and IMing your friends at the same time.  In other words, multi-tasking.  Your energy level is high, and you feel you’re being effective at everything.  But, say researchers, you’re not.  Says the Chronicle of Higher Education, “A student today who moves his attention rapid-fire from text-messaging to the lecture to Facebook to note-taking and back again may walk away from the class feeling buzzed and alert, with a sense that he has absorbed much more of the lesson than he actually has.” The fact is, though, that you’re not a kid, and multi-tasking is part of your lifestyle. What you have, apparently, is the illusion that you’re competent at the many things that you’re doing. Some psych professors at Stanford found that while multi-taskers are confident of their ability to do several things at once, they are actually worse at multi-tasking than people who like to focus on one thing at a time. “One of the deepest questions in the field”, says one of the researchers “is whether media multitasking is driven by a desire for new information or by an avoidance of existing information. Are people in these settings multitasking because the other media are alluring—that is, they’re really dying to play Freecell or read Facebook or shop on eBay—or is it just an aversion to the task at hand?”

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