Multitasking, now a part of everyday life

More often than not, people are doing more than one thing at a time without knowing it

 

Living in this day in age, our brains have been molded to try and do multiple things at once.

A very common phenomenon is now taking place: multitasking. It happens all the time, even when people don’t even realize, like when they cook and watch TV at the same time, or when they eat and text, or even when they are on Facebook and listening to music at the same time.

“Multitasking is my middle name,” junior Karly Izer said.

“No matter what I’m doing, I’m almost always texting while I do it,” senior Krista Fretheim said. “Except driving. That’s illegal!” she added.

The main reason why people consciously multitask is to save time. There is so much going on that sometimes the only way to get everything done is to combine all of the tasks in order to accomplish everything faster. “During sports seasons when I get home late, I almost always eat while doing my homework or I wouldn’t have time to get everything done before I go to bed,” Fretheim said. Senior Abby Burgart said the same. “It’s hard for me to focus on one thing because I have so much going on.”

While doing physical activities, multitasking can provide good results, but not as much as when it requires some brainpower. It can be dangerous (and, of course illegal for teens) like when one drives and talks on the phone at the same time.

According to research, the human brain is not designed to process more than one stream of information and encode it into short-term memory at a time. This means that at times, multitasking doesn’t really solve the problem. When one can’t remember the information because one didn’t learn it properly or memorize it, one can’t access it. Burgart agreed that multitasking may not give her the best results all the time.

That is not the only reason multitasking can make one less efficient. People tend to think that focusing on something specifically is much harder nowadays due to all of the gadgets available, like cellphones, tablets, computer and TV, but multitasking has always existed and has always been a problem.

“It is very easy to get distracted: when your favorite TV show comes on, when your boyfriend texts you, when your grandma calls,” Izer said.

Today’s teens say they need to keep many tasks going to keep stimulated. “When I multitask while doing homework, it’s definitely just because I’m bored,” Fretheim said. This also happens to Izer, who has a hard time doing only one thing for a long period of time. “When I have a chore or something to do, I will study for a couple of minutes, do some of that chore and then go back to studying. It makes it so I’m not doing the same thing for a ton of time while getting things done,” she said.

People who multitask the most are actually the most likely to be bad at it. Focusing becomes a major problem and productivity decreases significantly. According to a recent study in England, those who had the best scores were not used to doing several things at once, and because they could pay much more attention to what they had to do, they did it more consciously than those who multitasked very often, so they didn’t get distracted easily.

To avoid distractions, Fretheim tries to ignore them, which doesn’t work all the time, she said. “[Establishing limits and goals] is the only way I get any homework done. My reward is always letting myself go on Twitter”, she said, laughing. “Usually when I’m doing homework I have to lock myself away or I will never get anything done. I try not to watch TV while doing homework because I will get way too distracted and then feel terrible about myself,” Izer said.

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