Friday, June 12, 2015

Multitasking: Good or Bad?

For most of my life I've thought of multitasking as a good thing. After all, doing multiple things simultaneously increases productivity, right?

Not always. It is good to multitask certain activities. When exercising why not listen to something you need to listen to anyway? It saves you time.

There are other tasks that are done best by themselves, however. So why exactly wouldn't you multitask?

A few months ago I was studying for the ACT test (my score was quite decent, but I remain unconvinced that college is the path for me, but that's another topic altogether). I was looking at some sample essay prompts and responses. Although a lot of the questions were very strange, one asking whether students should multitask was very thought provoking.

There were two reasons not to multitask:

  1. Some things require full attention to be accomplished best. If you multitask these types of activites you will probably not do either task very well. For example, if I tried to write this while listening to Hebrew I doubt I'd learn much Hebrew and you, my dear reader, would not have a great blog post to read ;D
  2. A lot of "multitasking" is really an excuse to allow distractions to stay. If you try to watch television while doing homework, as was an example of multitasking mentioned in the essay prompt, you will probably not learn much.
I've often found that I allow distractions, cloaked under nice words such as "productivity" or "multitasking," to get the best of me. When I get on the computer to do some work I often find myself opening my email and social media sites. Why? There's no need to. Then after awhile I find I've hardly scratched the surface of whatever task I set out to do and my brain is getting those dizzy or numb feeling that arise when one stares at a computer screen for too long while being unproductive. Instead of accomplishing something useful, much less two useful things, I leave the computer feeling slightly depressed.

So, is multitasking a good thing or a bad thing? It depends on what you're trying to multitask. Sometimes it's wise; other times it is foolish. It's not very hard to identify the times multitasking is useful and distinguish those times from the times you shouldn't multitask--if you simply watch and think about what you're doing.
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" - Ecclesiastes 9:10a

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