As technology progresses and we have more tools at our fingertips to keep ourselves organized and “efficient,” why does it feel we have less time to finish all the tasks at hand? Whether texting a friend while running errands, or doing homework while uploading a picture on Instagram and watching TV, this interconnected world almost begs for us to be multi-taskers.
We’ve all heard this expression before, and some of us even pride ourselves on our multi-tasking abilities. Christine Rosen, in her article, “The Myth of Multitasking,” views this tendency as a hindrance to time-management, efficiency, and long-term learning.
Studies have shown that “workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers,” and multi-tasking can be creating such an information overload that we are losing our ability to be productive, especially among new generations who are more likely to be “media multi-taskers.”
Another study found that “task-switching leads to time lost as the brain determines which task to perform.” This can hinder learning, make it harder to retrieve information, and lead to more stress. Multi-tasking has created a generation who holds “great technical facility and intelligence,” while also creating students who are impatient with long silences and slow, time-consuming activities.
Perhaps finding courses such as Drawing in UVM’s Pre-College Art Studio course or On the Meaning of Life Philosophy course can help students to put down their devices and be more in the moment.
As research on this issue evolves, we will all have to ask ourselves if multi-tasking will be helpful in processing information more quickly, or if it will hinder our ability to be good listeners, to pay attention, and be efficient learners. So the next time you are doing homework, driving, or eating lunch, be in the moment, and consider how multi-tasking personally affects your learning and ability to be productive.
Learn more about the courses offered at UVM’s Pre-College and Summer Academy.