You’re not as good at multitasking as you think (PART I)

Despite what some people believe, it might not be a good idea to tout your multitasking prowess. According to the preponderance of the evidence, you’d be telling everyone that you really don’t do anything very well. The human mind just isn’t able to multitask well—what’s more, research shows it may even have a harmful effect on the brain.

Issie Lapowsky, writing for, pointed to a very interesting 2009 study conducted by Stanford researcher Clifford Nass. Nass “…challenged 262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information, and using working memory. Nass and his colleagues expected frequent multitaskers would outperform nonmultitaskers on at least some of these activities,” writes Lapowsky.

I think that’s a reasonable assumption, but wasn’t even close to what happened

Chronic multitaskers failed at all three tasks. “The scariest part,” writes Lapowsky, “Only one of the experiments actually involved multitasking, signaling to Nass that even when they focus on a single activity, frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively.”

I’ve been reading studies like this for several years now. What once was considered a strength to tout on a resume or in a job interview is now a liability. People just can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. What’s more, the Nass study suggests that those who try or are compelled to multitask aren’t able to focus and do anything very well. This implies huge implications for the way people work, for the environment they work in, and how they use technology to interact with each other.

Read more next week

About Guest Blogger

Guest bloggers for the TDS Business Blog.


No comments yet.

Leave a Comment