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Multi-Task or Multiple Messes?

This week, Katia asked us to watch and reflect on this video:

Watching the guy in this video reminds me a lot of how my brain has felt 24/7. I feel like my brain is always bouncing from one thing to the next and that I can’t focus on the task at hand because my mind is shooting off a list of everything else I need to think about. Apparently this is a symptom of anxiety (amongst many others). I recently started taking anti-anxiety meds and they have been so helpful in letting me acknowledge these thoughts, but then try and focus on what I need to get done.

Overall, I would say I am someone who considers themselves more of a single-tasker. Yes, I can do multiple things at once, but I don’t always enjoy it, especially if the task requires a lot mentally. I prefer to focus on one thing at a time or else I feel overwhelmed. (or I check out of one task completely in order to focus on something else). For example, if I am writing a blog post or a paper, I will have my main document open, as well as my supporting articles, and maybe a few more related website that I found. Technically, you could say I am multitasking. However, I am not one to play music when I am writing and I try to stay off my phone. I need absolute SILENCE! If there is too much stimuli around me, I feel that I can’t actually get my work done. It is also the same when I am reading for enjoyment, if it is not quiet I get easily distracted and lose my spot. On the other hand, I have trouble watching tv without also being on my phone, but is that multitasking or am I just distracted or disengaged? So, I am probably not the best multitasker overall, especially when it comes to things that require a lot of thought.

Is the internet really a productivity tool or an endless series of distractions?

In this video, I would say that James is not multitasking- he is getting distracted. Yes, you can have multiple tabs open and be looking up information relating to the paper you are writing, but once you start going off topic you are no longer multitasking and how now fallen down the rabbit hole of the internet.

Has the Internet created a world of ‘multitaskers’ who don’t accomplish as much as they could have without it?

As I said previously, I think a lot of this comes down to the person. Someone who multitasks probably does it not only on the internet, but also offline. This means we can’t solely hold the internet responsible for the creation of multitaskers who can’t accomplish what they need. As Emma Boshart puts it, “It takes time for your mind to adjust to a shift in focus. Each time you change your attention, you’re forcing your brain to re-focus, and this can drain you of energy, time and productivity.” This is not only referring to multitasking online, but in general.

5 Reasons why single tasking is the clear winner:

Boshart does a great job of explain concisely why single tasking is the best choice:

  1. It lowers your stress, anxiety and promotes your overall happiness
  2. It increases your productivity and commitment
  3. It strengthens your self dicipline
  4. It enhances your creativity
  5. It builds your attention span

So, are you a single tasker or a multitasker? Do you think multitasking is even a legit thing or is it really just dividing your attention instead of giving 100% to a task?

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3 thoughts on “Multi-Task or Multiple Messes?

  1. Thank you so much for your post, Brittany! You really had me thinking with your mentions of anxiety at the top of your post. I relate so much to that as I also deal with anxiety. My mind is constantly running through all the things I need to get accomplished. Your question about multitasking is just dividing your attention among tasks rather than giving 100%…. YES. That is exactly what I am doing. I will be more mindful of this as your list of positives about singletasking are the goal.

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  2. I think it must be impossible to truly multitask in the sense that 100% of your attention is given to a single focus. But I don’t think that we’re really designed for that at an evolutionary level. At some point, everything we do is multitasking. I can be reading a book but my body will still sense temperature changes, local stimuli, etc; which is a type of multitasking that we don’t even realize. When we add in elements such as tangible objects and tools then our multitasking becomes more evident. Can I stop and have a conversation with my daughter while cooking supper? Yes but it might not be ideal if that conversation is very serious or the food is a point where it may burn. Can I answer an email while working on a paper? Sure, but again, at times it might not be ideal. I think it is all about time and place, finding balance.

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  3. Great post Brittany! I also had me emphasizing with your opening paragraph mentioning anxiety. It feels like my brain is constantly bouncing between ideas and thoughts. Also I really appreciated your distinction between multitasking and distractions. It’s an interesting thought, as I feel like I am always ‘multitasking’ but maybe it would be more accurate to say I am constantly getting distracted!

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