Octopods are amazing animals and fascinate most of us. They are brilliant and capable of learning, can change their color, and there is one point where they are definitely superior to humans: With their eight arms, they can carry out various activities simultaneously.
But let’s take a closer look at the underlying reasons.
What Happens In The Brain When Multitasking?
Suppose you are sitting at your computer reading an email. You perceive the individual letters, combine them into words and sentences, and finally attach meaning to them in the brain. This complex process takes place in our working memory. The incoming information is temporarily stored for a few seconds and then processed. In the first step, the amount of data we can handle depends on the working memory span, comparable to the storage capacity of a computer chip.
What Are The Consequences Of Multitasking?
Disturbances and interruptions are not uncommon in both professional and private everyday life and often force us to stop a task at short notice. However, you should resist the temptation to ‘keep several balls in the air’. Multitasking is only possible to a limited extent.
If you do many things concurrently, your performance is up to 40% worse: the frequency of errors is higher, and it takes longer to complete each task.
Besides, switching between tasks increases the cognitive load and can rapidly lead to excessive demands.
Plus, work interruptions lead to negative emotions such as anger, rage, sadness, and even loss of control or reduced job satisfaction. You are dissatisfied because nothing is accomplished.
However, interruptions have a positive effect in the case of very monotonous tasks. You will welcome any disturbance as an enjoyable break; they will even enhance your performance.
Under certain conditions, multitasking is, therefore, quite feasible and also beneficial. Let’s take a look at what these are now.
When Is Multitasking Possible?
Simultaneous processing is no problem for simple and automated tasks. That is undoubtedly one reason why some people still believe that they are more productive if they do as much as possible at the same time. All activities that do not require conscious attention hardly use our working memory and can be completed along the way.
Throughout our lives, we learn to carry out simple, repetitive tasks. Our brain sets up various schemes, which we automatically execute as soon as the related situation occurs. You don’t need conscious attention, and the cognitive effort is relatively low.
- The simultaneous processing of several complex tasks is not possible.
- Instead, both tasks are alternately processed in small steps, one after the other.
- Multitasking quickly leads to overload, decreased performance, and stress.
- Those who experience stress frequently endanger their health.
- Multitasking is possible when performing simple, automated tasks.
How do you deal with multitasking? What are your experiences? Please feel free to leave a comment.
What happens when we focus on multiple things at once? Take part in this little experiment and watch the video.