Monday, September 7

the effectiveness of multi-tasking

My colleagues in the psychology department drew my attention to some interesting research, which proves that Buddhists and couch potatoes were right all along - the world would be a better place if everyone tried to do just one thing at a time.

In a society that encourages more and more multitasking, researchers at Stanford University had assumed that people who do a lot of multitasking would be better at it.

"But they're not. They're worse. They're much worse," said Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford. "They couldn't ignore stuff that doesn't matter. They love stuff that doesn't matter," he said.

So perhaps the multitaskers can take in the information and organize it better? But no. "They are worse at that, too," Nass said.

Finally, they tested ability to switch from one task to another. The high multitaskers actually took longer to make the switch from one task to the other.

So, all those young people who multitask more are worse at everything, even at multi-tasking. Another reason for old people (not me) to feel smug.


  1. Albert? What is multi-tasking? Is it juggling while reciting poetry, kind of thing. In my religion you're not allowed to do anything in case it upsets your equilibrium, so this might not apply to me. I can't even do one thing right anyway. Hotboy

  2. Dear Mr Hotboy, you are perhaps an extreme example of the other end of the spectrum, but as one of my other patients might say, you're doing your bit to balance up the world.

    Re "not even doing one thing right" - surely your own recent photies show someone who can make a good job of digging an allotment?

    Also, your comment rate at some blogs is an acknowledged world record.

    You see? There are some things you can do right.

    I hope that helps.

  3. I say!

    Sorry, but I have rather too many things on the go at the present time to compose a suitable comment on this post.

    MM III

  4. Mingers, managing a Malawian homestead would indeed demand extreme multitasking abilities. Good that you're up to the job. Somebody has to balance up some of the useless layabouts one meets in blog land.