The Truth About Multitasking

Tech Talk Tuesday
January 8th, 2019

Multitasking can lead to permanent brain damage

  • Lower brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex (emotion, empathy)
  • Self and social awareness can be reduced

Multitasking reduces efficiency and mental performance

  • Context switching on feels seamless
  • There is a cognitive cost
  • On average, 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus after interruptions


Multitasking reduces focus and concentration

  • Dopamine-addiction feedback loop
  • Browsing the internet, scrolling on social media feeds, checking emails, ...
  • Self enforcing cycle that is difficult to break

Multitasking could make you dumber

  • IQ can drop
  • Students who use Facebook and respond to texts during schoolwork have lower GPAs
  • 9 out of 10 people thought colleagues who answered messages during face-to-face meetings were rude; 3 out of 10 believed it was acceptable, a sign of diligence and efficiency

Multitasking creates stress and anxiety

  • Multitasking increases cortisol production
  • One of the main stressors is our email inbox

Multitasking kills creativity

  • Innovative thinking comes from extended concentration

Multitasking causes overwhelm and burnout

  • Prefrontal cortex and striatum use oxygenated glucose more when switching context
  • Can lead to constant foggy or tired feeling

Multitasking leads to stupid decisions

  • Switching between tasks reduces willpower
  • Lessened impulse control
  • Harder to delay gratification/achieve goals

Protect Your Brain and Productivity

  • Focus on one thing at a time
  • Take breaks every hour and half to regain your energy
  • Keep phones and media devices out of sight
  • Recognize the addictiveness of multitasking