Sunday, April 7, 2013

You Tell My Wife That Multitasking Is A Myth
We do a lot of our coaching work using the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument that is an assessment that determines what are the dominant preferences in your brain for the way you think. The neuroscience of the brain has become quite popular recently and has also crept into the world of coaching and leadership.
With neuroscience comes the concept of multitasking. I remember the conversation with Mary, as well as my daughter Megan, about the research that suggests that multitasking is a myth. They both were quite adamant when I shared the research that it must have been written by a man. Much of the early material written on multitasking suggests that women are better at multitasking than men. And with two granddaughters this family may have added two more believers to the multitasking myth.
A book by Dave Crenshaw titled “The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done” further supports the perspective that any multitasking takes longer than if we did each task individually. In the book, we are introduced to the concept of "switchtasking." This happens when we try to perform two or more tasks at the same time that require mental effort. We tend to believe that we can do more than one thing at a time. This is the lie. The human mind can consciously concentrate on only one thing at a time. Of course my wife and daughter would remind me that I am just another male writing about multitasking.
Switchtasking is the process of switching between tasks. This is what we are doing when we think we are multi-tasking. Jumping from one task to another (Switchtasking) is a less effective and efficient way to get things done. This adds to our inability to focus.
William Stixrud a Neuropsychologist suggests, “The brain is a lot like a computer. You may have several screens open on your desktop, but you’re able to think about only one at a time.” Next time you find yourself in multitasking mode add to the multiple tasks you believe you are doing simultaneously and analyze if you are truly doing multiple tasks at once or maybe just inefficiently switching from one task to another.