Doing two things at once makes us feel as if we are somehow saving time and appear more efficient, yet there’s still a nagging feeling that we might ultimately face the music. We are lead to believe that trying to juggle too much at once means we don’t pay enough attention to each task; in psychology that is the monochronic assumption. Polychronic assumption is that one performs better when they are doing lots of things at once, and can excel in jobs which require them to do just that. Usually, though, this is multi-tasking — or the polychronic assumption — that is notorious.
According to statistics, the most popular combination is watching TV at the same time as chatting on the phone. It’s not too uncommon to check our email while surfing the internet and having a couple of pdfs open simultaneously, not to mention the music playing in the background. Of course, we could decide not to check our email so frequently or to turn off alerts, but in general we tend not to.
When you concentrate on more than one task at a time there simply isn’t sufficient cognitive resource to go round. Therefore, whatever you’re doing might go the same way as the dodo.
The interesting fact is that, as demonstrated by scientists, multi-tasking can actually increase your cognitive load. Multi- tasking might often be the only way to get things done if one is given a tough deadline and they are forced to narrow their options in how good each task can be finished.
Are you in favor of multitasking?