Multitasking; the ability to administer more than one task at the same time, has become an essential skill which we need to equip ourselves with so as to be seen as efficient in this demanding society. Our society is recognizing multitasking as a talent. When one is required to list a skill in his resume, multitasking will definitely be one of them. Despite how well we multitask, it is said to have reverse effects. Studies have shown that multitasking means to force the brain to respond to numerous stimuli at the same time. In another study, it is said that humans are not made to multitask.
Instead, we are made to focus on just one task. Multitasking would lead to time lost as the brain needs to decide which job to perform. It has become one of the stress contributors as well. With the presence of stress, we are actually accomplishing less even though we seem to be accomplishing more. The effects of multitasking have also cause an impact on the Z-generation. With access to media technologies, they have become multitasking experts but have also become impatient and uncontended when things begin to slow down. In order for us to slow down and take on fewer roles, we need to learn what it means to pay attention. As multitasking is causing our attentions to wander; we need to bring the attention back, making it unshakeable so that we can focus on one task and give our best to it.
I would think the statement is true to a complete extent. Singapore is a small country and our only natural resource would be people. Without any other natural resources, we need to take on double roles and work doubly hard. Therefore, the ability to multitask would be very apt for one to live in Singapore. As a fast paced society, we are forced to multitask so that we can save time and increase efficiency. Multitasking has become such a norm that we are doing it every day. For example, many people would be having lunch at their work station and at the same time, replying emails. That is the simplest form of multitasking.
However, studies have shown that multitasking has caused time to be lost. A research was done in the University of Michigan and they found that an individual who checked e-mail while working on a project took much longer to complete the task because of going back and forth between the two. When the person took the time to do both tasks separately, it took half the time (Sautters, 2011). Contrary to the belief of our society, multitasking does not help to save time and bring up the rate of productivity but instead, multitasking lead to time lost when people switched repeatedly between two tasks of varying complexity and familiarity (Rubinstein & Meyer, 2001).
For example, when one has to toggle between reading e-mails and completing a project he may not be focusing well on any one of them. Different tasks require different amount of focus and concentration. When the amount of focus is being compromised between the two tasks, he may be less constructive in completing the project since he is also focusing on reading the e-mails. This whole process would have impaired his cognitive ability.
As a teacher, I am always seen to be multitasking. With a class of 30 pupils, many things will happen at the same time and it is quite impossible not to multitask. I may have a pupil who wants to go to the toilet while I get the others to hand in their homework. At the point of time, I would have to attend to both activities. There were many times where I have forgotten that I have gave permission to the pupil to go to the toilet and so when the pupil is not seen in class, I would ask where did this pupil go? I would even ask the pupil why did he not ask for permission before going to the toilet. That was when I know my cognitive ability has been impaired. I was not in a position to focus, think and know what exactly I was doing.
Multitasking may seem to be a powerful skill for us to be equipped with as many things would be accomplished within a short period of time. However, Tonya Watkins in his short write-up mentioned that schools and businesses praise multitasking, but it is an absurd expectation (Watkins, 2010) – when multitasking can only lead people to being distracted, consequently being less productive.
Rubinstein, J., & Meyer, D. (2001, August 5). Is Multitasking More Efficient? Shifting Mental Gears Costs Time, Especially When Shifting to Less Familiar Tasks. Retrieved Feburary 19, 2012, from American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2001/08/multitasking.aspx
Sautters, D. (2011). Multi-tasking: It could consume more of your time. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from Advertising Crossing: http://www.advertisingcrossing.com/article/170047/Multi-tasking-It-could-consume-more-of-your-time/
Watkins, T. (2010, May 28). The Myth of Multitasking. Retrieved February 19, 2012, from Buzz about Science: http://www.buzzaboutscience.com/myth-multitasking/cool-science/