Multitasking Research 2013
Video Games & Multitasking - Video games increase your brains ability to multi-task. Recent research found that first person games that require you to monitor a number of things at once (life span, the presence of other players, and game maps) actually improve your attention span, hand eye coordiantion, and your ability to multi-task.
Positive Multitasking - Research suggests that there may be a correlation between being able to mointor multiple media sources to being able to process sight and sound at the same time.
Misconceptions - Research done by University of Utah shows that those who believe they multitask well are actually quite bad at it.
Multitasking Brain Function - While previous research suggested that the human brain was not capable of processing sets of informatin simultaniously, new research suggests that the brain is quite adept at doing two things at one.
Who is Good at Multitasking? - According to a recent study, the people who multitask the most often are actually the people who are not very good at it. In fact, this recent study from January 2013 shows that the opposite may be true.
Multitasking & Awareness - University of Washington researchers conducted a study testing how well groups of people could concentrate after being exposed to an eight week period of extreme multitasking.
Multitasking Research 2011
The term multitasking was for decades used to describe the processing of different programs in a computer, but sometime in the late 1990's the phrase became a popular way to describe humans performing more than one task. Soon it began to crop up on the "skills" section of resumes, as job-hunters wanted to portray themselves as technologically adept performers. Yet more and more, multitasking in humans has been described by neuroscience as a bad, if not impossible, thing to do. Despite these findings, multitasking is sewn into the fabric of the communication era in which we all live--that is, it's not going anywhere.
So what does that mean for us brave multitaskers? Are we doomed to shallow thought processing and lack of concentration? Will all of mankind soon have ADD? In truth, that remains to be seen. Yet a number of researchers have taken important strides in the direction of learning how multitasking works and figuring how best to manage it in our chaotic lives.
What follows is a compilation of multitasking resources, including first-hand research and summarizing articles from trustworthy media outlets. These resources can be used to educate yourself on multitasking, learning what it is, how it works, what it does to you, and how you can best manage it. With these articles you can learn how best to manage your attention, one of the most important resources you have as a human being.
- Working Moms Multitask More Than Dads - and Like It Less - This article, published Dec. 1, 2011 in Time Healthland, discusses how mothers often have to bear the biggest multitasking burden. As a suggestion to alleviate the burden, the article says fathers, policy makers, and employers should try to help make responsibilities more equitable.
- Lindastone.net - Considered one of the most eminent thought-leaders in the digital revolution, Linda Stone has written widely about multitasking, discussing everything from email apnea to continuous partial attention. Her website (listed above) is a continually flowing resource from one of the most important researchers in the field of multitasking.
- How To Multitask - This article, published April 2001 in the New York Times, says "Don't think you can do two things at once." It describes how the human brain is unlike a computer and says that it can really only concentrate on one thing at a time. Then it gives helpful tips on how to manage multitasking, which in reality is switching from one task to another.
- Russell Poldrack: Multi-Tasking Adversely Affects the Brain's Learning Systems - "Multi-tasking affects the brain's learning systems, and as a result, we do not learn as well when we are distracted," according to this article and interview published on the UCLA Department of Psychology Home Page. Poldrack posits that learning while multitasking is less flexible, "so you cannot retrieve the information as easily."
- Media Multitasking Among American Youth - The Kaiser Family Foundation compiled this broad report that discusses the prevalence of multitasking among teens, as well as its impacts.
- Music May Harm Your Studying, Study Says - This CNN article discusses 2010 research conducted by the University of Wales Institute in the UK, which found that participants asked to memorize things while listening to music performed worse than those who did not. An article in the Natural Science Articles Section of the University of Phoenix makes the opposite case, saying music, especially classical, helps heighten your mood, reduce blood pressure and stress. The paper asserts that it's actually the tempo that matters: music with a beats per minute of 60 somehow draws a link to memory recall.
- Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, Don't Read This in Traffic - Published in March 2007 in the NYT, this article says multitasking causes an attentional bottleneck in your brain, or in other words, overloads your brain so it actually causes you to be less productive.
- Think You're Multitasking? Think Again - This article/podcast published in 2008 in NPR, gives evidence that we really don't multitask as much as we think. Using the example of a chef in a restaurant, the article says what humans are really good at is switching quickly from task to task, not performing multiple tasks at once.
- Infomania Worse than Marijuana - This study, published in the BBC in 2005, found that people who chronically try to multitask see a more significant drop in their IQs than those who regularly smoke marijuana.
- How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking - Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review, gives helpful advice on how to resist the temptation of multitasking.
- Think Your Good At Multitasking? Take These Tests - Aza Raskin gives a series of tests in Fast Company that aim to prove that you're unable to multitask. For example: Spell aloud "Jewelry is Shiny" at the same time as writing your name. Now, spell aloud jewelry is shiny and then write your name. Which is easier?
- genM: The Multitasking Generation - This in-depth article, published in Time Magazine in 2006, talks about how the youngest generations are continually multitasking. Profiling several elementary and middle school kids, it contrasts how they work with how people from older generations work. Citing several different studies and surveys, the article gives both a broad and intimate overview of multitasking for genM. In so doing, it gives us a forecast for what productivity will look like for the adults in the future.