This week, reviewing the readings about attention and multitasking, gave me a chance to reflect on my personal experiences with multitasking. I used to be proud of being a multitask-er. In undergrad and first few semesters of my graduate degree, in an attempt to be more “efficient” (which was my code for more time to play video games), I would browse email while listening to news articles via text-to-speech, answer texts while reading books or journal articles, and talk on the phone while cooking or doing chores. Over time, I began to notice a significant drop in productivity as I would have a hard time focusing on the task at hand. I went from consuming books on a regular, to having trouble finishing a 2-3 page news article. I realized that efficiency was affecting quality of my work. This house of cards came crashing down in the Spring of 2015, when I went on academic probation for not maintaining a satisfactory GPA. Multi-tasking was not the only issue in my life that led to probation, but it played a part.
Lessons learned, drastic changes made.
This was the time I started reading about the research looking into multitasking and concluding that multitasking is actually multi-task-switching, but at the cost of loss in attention spans. I decided to start prioritizing and focusing on one thing at a time rather than multiple things at once. By doing this, and taking regular breaks during the course of the day to calm my obsessive mind, I noticed that I was actually getting more done. Slowing down what you do can help you get more done. This was my ah-ha moment when I read Technology: Myth of Multitasking.
Needless to say, I am no longer (proud of being) a multitask-er.