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When talking about multitasking experts refers to switchtasking and background tasking.
What’s the difference?
Switchtasking (or multitasking) is attempting to do multiple attention-requiring tasks at the same time. Each switch in attention incurs switching cost, which includes a loss of time, decrease in performance, and an increase in stress levels. When most people say they are “multitasking,” they are most often referring to switchtasking.
Background tasking is performing a task while something mindless or mundane occurs in the background. For examples: doing homework while listening to music. Background tasking can improve productivity overall.
Multitasking is neither a good thing nor a bad thing…it simply does not exist! The question is, are you background tasking, which may improve productivity, or are you switchtasking, which always harms productivity.
Quoting Dr Marin Kutcher’s book Digital Kids: How to Balance Screen Time, and Why it Matters “…You can’t type a text into your smartphone and read a school book at the same time! Every time we get interrupted, we not only lose time while we attend to the interruption (answering the text or posting on Facebook), but research shows that it actually takes anywhere from one to twenty additional minutes just to get back to where you were when interrupt”. Adding that “we all need to learn that ‘multitasking’ actually makes the work go less efficiently and ultimately leaves us LESS free time, not more.”
Complete the Myth of Multitasking challenge by Dave Crenshaw. We gave it to students ages elementary and middle school, and were amazed by the results, as it takes twice as much time when doing that to complete a task. Try it, and let us know how was it for you.