You can only do one thing at a time

There is a reason, each worker on an assembly line does only one task. By having each person do only one thing, the number of workplace accidents falls significantly. This is because having only one task allows a worker to build expertise and gives them focus. It’s actually easier to work when you have only one job.

Every few months, I come across someone who claims they are very good at multitasking. Despite the latest Scientific research proving conclusively that multitasking is a myth, there are still a lot of people who believe they are good at it. Even worse, I have seen job adverts that list ability to multitask as a required skillset.

Multitasking icon
This is not possible

The human brain can not multitask. It was never designed to. It is a well-known fact that accident rates go up significantly when people (try to) drive and text. This is because instead of doing both tasks at the same time, the brain switches between them. At some point, a person stops driving and focuses on texting. That’s the point when more accidents happen.

Similarly, if you have ever received a phone call while typing an email, chances are after the call, you were unable to continue typing the email immediately. You had to gather your thoughts and try to remember what you were thinking about before the call.

Don't text and drive
Your brain can’t handle both

Whenever a person tries to multitask, their brain tries to accommodate their desire to do two things at once. Since the human brain is designed to focus on one task at a time, it compensates by shifting focus between the two tasks. If you tried to think of a Mango and the Colour Purple at the same time, your brain doesn’t hold both images in your mind simultaneously. Instead, it cycles between the two of them. First Mango, then Purple, then back to Mango ad infinitum. Since this wasn’t how your brain was designed to work, the shift happens inefficiently.

Whenever you try to do two tasks at the same time, it actually takes longer to complete both tasks. You also get tired more easily. Even worse, people who multitask have been shown to make more mistakes and be poorer decision makers than those who work on a single task. Does that sound like the kind of person a decent hiring manager wants for their job that supposedly requires the ability to multitask?

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