I’ve always thought of myself as being good at multitasking. For example, I can text my friends while talking to my boyfriend on the phone while updating my Facebook status while also watching my favorite TV show and eating ice cream. And when it comes to school and work, I’ve always found myself doing a million things at once and actually getting those things done. Do you feel the same way? Well, according to a new study, we might not as good as multitasking as we think we are.
This new study looked at over 300 college students who were given a few tests to judge their multitasking skills. In the end, researchers found that people who think they’re good at multitasking really aren’t good at multitasking.
Huh? I have to say, I’m feeling a little defensive here. As I read through the study, I found myself frowning at my computer screen and convincing my cat that I am, in fact, a good multitasker (for the record, she believes me).
But these researchers seem to disagree. One of them, Zheng Wang, the assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, says, “There’s this myth among some people that multitasking makes them more productive. But they seem to be misperceiving the positive feelings they get from multitasking. They are not being productive – they just feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.”
So basically, you’re saying that I’m not actually being more productive, I just feel like I’m being more productive? I guess that could maybe make sense. When I really think about it, I usually feel very proud of myself for getting a bunch of things done at once… but I know I could have done a better job on everything if I had given each task some solo attention.
Does this mean that we should stop multitasking once and for all? I don’t think so. Despite what this study says, I still think that having some multitasking skills can be a good thing. Here are three tips on how to multitask successfully:
1. Don’t be overconfident. What this study is basically saying is that people who think they’re good at multitasking aren’t good because they’re too confident in their ability to do it. So if you’re about to try to tackle a bunch of things at once, don’t be so convinced that you’re going to do everything perfectly. Double check your work and don’t speed through things.
2. Only multitask if you have to. Don’t start multitasking every minute of the day just because you think it will help you be more productive. Do it if you’re super busy and you need to get stuff done. Example: If you’re bad at math, don’t try doing your math homework while also cleaning your room. Put more focus on things you have trouble with and leave the multitasking for things you’re naturally better at.
3. Sometimes multitasking is not okay. This study brings up one way a lot of people multitask: by talking on their cell phones and driving at the same time. Girls, don’t do this. Take it from someone who has gotten into two car accidents because she was on the phone while trying to drive. There is a time and a place to multitask, and that is definitely not while you’re driving.
Do you think you’re good at multitasking? Do you do it a lot? Or would you rather put all of your attention on one thing? Tell us in the comments.