September 12, 2011


I’ve written several posts about multi-tasking (e.g., Defend Your Day, Information Overload, The Myth of Time Managementand and I address it in The Clutter Book, as well. 

I recently read an article with a title that captured everything I’ve learned about multitasking:  Will Multi-tasking Make You a Scatterbrain?
Dr. William Klemm, the author, states that many adults find it amazing that children “are such impressive multi-taskers;” however, he notes that using cell phones, the Web, text messaging, and playing video games all while plugged into an  IPod “exacts a high price on learning.”

As I’ve mentioned many times, your brain can only do one thing at a time. When you think you’re multi-tasking, you’re actually switching between activities, which is distracting and, Dr. Klemm adds, “interferes with memory formation and what memory researchers call ‘consolidation’ into lasting memory.”  He goes on to describe the Interference Theory of Learning:
Memory consolidation is often prevented when one event follows too soon after an initial learning event. Memory of initial learning events can be blocked if you try to learn two things at once. In fact, learning may be disrupted for both things.
He says that multi-tasking affects your working memory:
Multi-tasking bombards working memory with scrambled and unfocused information and probably keeps the brain from learning how to optimize focus and orderly sequence thoughts. Several studies show that intelligence correlates with working memory capacity, which under the best of circumstances is limited. Working memory is the platform on which you think. Over-loading this small-capacity thinking platform just makes it harder to think straight.

Need more evidence that multi-tasking is counterproductive?  You can read the entire article and the studies conducted that inform Dr. Klemm’s writing.

Do you agree or are you still convinced that you can do more in less time by doing more at the same time? Click on Post a Comment, below, and tell us.

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