The Multitask Test Seeks to Quantify the Myth of Multitasking

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With the economy the way it has been the last couple of years, employers have been asking their employees – you – to do more with less. This means that the mystical and powerful myth of multitasking rears its cliched head up from the sand like a sandworm of Arrakis. You see, many perceive their ability to multitask as evident, but in truth what they are doing is two tasks concurrent to each other, rather than in the same action. The fact is, to be able to truly multitask is to be lord of the office.

Where most believe the practice of multitasking to contribute to a healthy and productive work environment, in truth multitasking can not only reduce your level of productivity, but slow you down with distractions. You see, when you attempt to multitask you are open to distraction and new tasks. Then you move back and forth between these tasks, sometimes seamlessly, most often not. The quality of work suffers, as the quantity increases.

There is this section of the brain called Broadman’s Area 10. This area is apparently responsible for teaching your brain to switch from task to task. Multitasking might be the goal, but all we are getting good at is switching from task to task. Oddly enough, you can blame video games for our advanced ability to multitask when it comes to attention, hand eye coordination and problem solving. Yet, are we really multitasking or just task switching?

Here’s how you figure that one out. Think about driving, how you learned and how you drive now. Now, it is a seamless activity. You signal for a right turn, you slow down – you don’t even think about the action of braking, you just do it – then accelerate out of the turn, all while drinking a soda, operating the turn signal, checking your mirrors and so on. This is multitasking. Now, consider your day at work and if the activities you are performing are seamless or a series of tasks strung together by an ever-waning attention span.

With all this in mind, most of you are probably still doubting these statements. In your mind you are the king/queen of multitasking and there is no equal. Well, that’s why the gang over at Open-Site.org created the “Multitask Test.” If you didn’t know, Open-Site.org is a site where you can study anything, anytime. With a solid collection of coursework from thousands of schools, they are stacked in educational resources. They also make interesting brain games from time to time.

The Multitask Test via Open-Site.org

So how did you fare on the test? Are you a true multitasker? Let us know in the comments – it’s for science.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Curtis Silver

About Curtis Silver

A true captain of industry, Curtis writes all over the internet and kind of maintains a delusional travel blog called Heathens of the Plains. He can be reached by holding out your hands in a non threatening manner, or pretty much always on Twitter @cebsilver or ego tripping on Facebook. Also the co-founder of Kupeesh.com.

Curtis Silver

About Curtis Silver

A true captain of industry, Curtis writes all over the internet and kind of maintains a delusional travel blog called Heathens of the Plains. He can be reached by holding out your hands in a non threatening manner, or pretty much always on Twitter @cebsilver or ego tripping on Facebook. Also the co-founder of Kupeesh.com.

2 thoughts on “The Multitask Test Seeks to Quantify the Myth of Multitasking

  1. Multi- tasking is indeed a myth. In performing tasks, a person is only able to do one thing at a time, and switching from one task to another takes time as the brain has to switch contexts, thus working on more than one thing concurrently actually is less productive than working on one thing at a time, as studies have shown.

    The important thing for productivity is the ability to prioritize, find the most important task and finish that one, then the next, etc. A person can finish more tasks using this method than trying to work on several things at once.

    That’s why I am flabbergasted when employers invariably ask the question: “how are you at multi-tasking?”. What they should be asking is: “how are you at prioritizing?”. As a manager, you don’t want your employes multi-tasking, you want them prioritizing and working on one thing at a time.

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