In society, multitasking is seen as the ability to do multiple things in the same time and as stephaniedanielsonauthor pointed out in a previous comment, employers are in a search for this skill because they think it’s effective even though studies show that it isn’t (Junco & Cotton, 2010 & 2012).
“Human multitasking is an apparent human ability to perform more than one task, or activity, at the same time. An example of multitasking is taking phone calls while typing an email and reading a book. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention. Studies have shown that it is impossible to focus on more than one task at a time, therefore multitasking is the process of rapidly shifting attention between tasks. If one becomes proficient at two tasks it is possible to rapidly shift attention between the tasks and perform the tasks well/proficiently.” – Wikipedia
This quote seems to define multitasking as the ability to switch the focus. But isn’t that the contrary of multitasking? Switching the focus implies processing one thing at a time so it’s basically a continuous single tasking. Maybe from a cognitive perspective, things happen so fast that it seems we do multiple things at once when we actually do it one at a time but we quickly switch from one thing to another.
Maybe it’s just a semantics issue and the skill itself is not to do multiple things in the same time, but to quickly switch between them. Now the question is: how productive is this thing? It’s true that we manage to do more, but doesn’t it take longer? If we do concentrate all our efforts towards one thing at a time, isn’t more efficient (I talked more about this focusing thing here)? I guess that this world requires more of our attention and because of this, we tend to do multiple things at once. I’m worrying more about the quality of the job instead of the quantity of it.
In which areas of your life would you like to multitask more and in which would you like to multitask less?