Multi-tasking can kill your brain


My boss was a self-proclaimed multitasker.

He could speak on the phone, check emails and reply to them, conduct meetings, drink coffee-all at the same time.
By his own admission, he could do 7  tasks at one time.
He was very proud of his super efficiency due to his multi-tasking skills.

We all hated him.

All meetings were disasters (as per our view) as he used to interrupt the meetings due to his phone calls, SMSes or messages.
Till he completely messed up by sending wrong emails to our most important client during one of our regular meetings.
And just to make things more interesting, he was hit by a motorcycle, while he was crossing the road while passionately talking on his mobile phone.

Bottom line- we almost lost the client and he was bedridden for two months with a broken leg.

Most of the accidents in life take place when you are trying to do multiple things at one time.

Talking on the mobile phone, while driving.

Most young people get hit, when they are on mobile phones while crossing the road.

The human brain is wired differently.

It can focus on one thing at a time.

Earl Miller who happens to be an MIT neuroscientist has to say that human brain is “not designed to multitask well… most of the people misunderstand multitasking, for switching among different activities very rapidly. And every time they do, it incurs a cognitive cost.

This constant switching between tasks affects the brain.
Every time we complete a small task (
sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet) we are hit by a reward hormone called “Dopamine”.
Our brains love this hormone and hence welcomes such hormones as it receives instant gratification.

In a study conducted by the University of London, it showed that people who do multitasking while performing cognitive tasks experience significant drops in their IQ levels. In some cases, a drop of 15 % in IQ level was noticed among men.

Also, multitasking increases production of the stress hormone cortisol.                                                                              

When our brain constantly shifts the gear, the stress level rises and tires us out, leaving us mentally exhausted

Having our brain constantly shift gears pumps up stress and tires us out, leaving us feeling mentally exhausted.

The new age thinking made Multi-tasking a success mantra.
It is said that women can multitask nine activities at one time, whereas men can multitask only seven activities.

People are proud of the fact that they can conduct meetings, read emails on blackberry, read reports, take a couple of important calls, bark orders-all at the same time.

“Big myths, big lies”

Multitasking can make you unproductive.
And it can actually damage your brain.

There are five reasons, you should not multitask:

1. It slows you down

Research shows that multitasking slows you down.
If you try to multitask between critical activities, you lose the rhythm of the initial task and there is always a start-up time required for any new activity.
And once you want to come back to original activity-you need to start all over again.

2. Loss of productivity

Experts estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity.
It can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involve a lot of critical thinking.

A 2010 French study found that the human brain could handle two complicated tasks without too much trouble because it has two lobes that can divide responsibility equally between the two.
Add a third task, however, and it can cause complications to the frontal cortex and increase the number of mistakes you make.

3. Creativity is affected

If you are working on more than one task, you cannot focus.
And if you cannot focus, you’re not in a position to come up with good ideas.
Your ability to be creative is hampered due to multitasking.

4. You miss on this beautiful life

You are never able to appreciate your surroundings because you are always on your mobile.
You miss out on all the fun of meeting new people, things happening around you, children laughing on the street corner.
I go to a gym for my daily workouts, and I see young boys & girls always on their mobile phones, completely oblivious to whatever is happening around them.

5. It is dangerous

Texting or talking on a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol—yet that doesn’t stop most people from doing it.
Research shows that people who use mobiles while walking are less likely to look before crossing a road.
And in one study, one in five teenagers who went to the hospital after being hit by a vehicle admitted they were using a smartphone at the time of the mishap.

I am convinced that multitasking can destroy your potential, and you will deliver second-rate results only. And it’s the shortest route to lose your self-esteem and confidence.

So limit your multitasking to watching TV and eating popcorn at the same time.


Leave a comment