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The Big Lie about Multi-Tasking


by Glenn Shepard

December 2, 2014

Category:  Time Management





Paducah, KY

Dec 9


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Too many self-proclaimed experts preach that you need to be a master multi-tasker in today’s fast paced world.

They’re dead wrong.

A 2001 University of Michigan study found that the higher functioning part of the brain that sequences thinking and acting can only focus on one thing at a time.

In reality, multi-tasking is not doing ten things at once. It's toggling back and forth between a number of tasks before completing the prior one.

In a 2006 UCLA study, researchers ran MRI scans on volunteers while they performed a single task, and while they performed multiple tasks simultaneously.

They found that when people multi-tasked, they used "Procedural Memory". When they performed a single task, they used "Declarative Memory", which is more reliable.

But you don’t have to be a scientist to see the problems Multi-Tasking is causing, or how it’s gotten dramatically worse in the last 15 years.

In 1999, the first Blackberry was released.

It was a pager that allowed people to get email before smartphones took off. It became known as “CrackBerry” because people got so addicted that they couldn't unplug. They constantly had a cell phone in one hand and BlackBerry in the other.

About the same time, texting took off.

In 2000, the average American sent 35 texts per month.

By 2007, the average American sent and received more text messages than phone calls. (This marked the beginning of more than a few bad habits – such as not returning phone calls and a sharp decline in social skills and professionalism.)

In 2011, Pew Research reported that young adults sent and received over 3,000 texts per month.

And then there was the explosion of Social Media.

In 2006, Facebook first became available to the general public, followed by others like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever the latest Flavor of the Month was.

Then came “selfies”.

In 2013, the Oxford Dictionary noted a 17,000% increase in the use of the word “selfie” and named it Word of the Year.

In one week in 2013, it was mentioned in over 368,000 Facebook posts, in the hashtag of more than 150,000 Tweets, and Instagram had over 53 million photos with “selfie” in the hashtag.

Technology changes so fast that no one can predict what’s going to last (remember MySpace?).

But no matter what technology we’re using tomorrow, you'll still be better off doing one thing at a time.



To Your Success,



Glenn Shepard



P.S.  All of these distractions can also hurt marriages. If you’re concerned they may be affecting yours, I highly recommend “Married to Distraction: Restoring Intimacy and Strengthening Your Marriage in an Age of Interruption” by Drs. Edward Hallowell and John Ratey.



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