One of the many lovely aspects about being on vacation — in this case, in California with my family for the Thanksgiving holiday — is that I don’t feel pressure to multitask the way I sometimes feel pressured to do during the work week.
On this particular vacation, I’m reading The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin, and it’s a wonderful reminder about how that pressure to multitask is a myth that busy people tell themselves.
Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world experts on divided attention, says that our brains are not ‘wired to multi-task well. . . . When people think they’re multi-tasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.’
Levitin adds: “Even though we think we’re getting a lot done, ironically, multi-tasking makes us demonstrably less efficient.”
With the holiday season coming on, the pressure to do more with less time can feel even more intense. One technique that has helped me to ratchet down my trained proclivity to multitask has been to meditate.
Want to read more about multitasking? See if you can get through the two links below without hopping between browser tabs, checking your phone or otherwise multitasking. (Good luck — I know you can do it!)
- The Multitasker’s Dillemma in Psychology Today
- Real Happiness At Work: The Myth Of Multitasking by Sharon Salzberg