Singletasking Series: Part 3 – Understanding Multitaskalism

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This is the third post in a series on Singletasking (in case you missed the bit in the heading that says, “Part 3″).

People around the world are multitasking with reckless abandon. They are addicted and they don’t even know it. This affliction is so widespread we don’t even notice it anymore.

For lack of a better word, I’ve decided to call this pandemic “Multitaskalism
OK, technically it already has a better name. ADT or Attention Deficit Trait.)

Multitaskalism can be defined as the result of the mental reprogramming that occurs over time when people habitually try to tackle multiple tasks simultaneously.

Symptoms of Multitaskalism:

  • The knowledge that you could and should be producing more than you are;
  • The feeling that you’re smarter than your output seems to suggest;
  • Responding to questions more hurriedly and with less well-considered answers than you should
  • The feeling that the reservoir of new ideas is starting to run dry and that the few new ideas that are coming through are sometimes only half-formed;
  • Working longer hours but producing less;
  • Sleeping less and having less free time for exercise and socialising;

Causes of Multitaskalism

  • Access to an increasing number of inputs and outputs
  • Living in the digital age, we presume that human brains are like giant organic CPUs and we tend to treat it as such
  • Switching attention from one thing to another has a stimulant effect, caused by the release of chemicals within the brain. This form of chemical stimulation is addictive
  • The diversity of the average workday, so critical in alleviating boredom, means our mental resources are constantly pulled in a variety of directions
  • The increase in the number of communication channels and the ease of communication means that the nature of interpersonal interaction has changed. It’s more frequent and often brief, which equates to regular interruption.
  • Intake of stimulants like caffeine may also be a compounding factor.

Possible long-term effects of Multitaskilism

  • Rewiring of the brain, making it function in a specific way
  • The diminished ability to hold on to and fully develop specific and complex ideas
  • Emotional strain due to the reduced ability to understand and manage emotions
  • Reduced ability to process and structure information, especially complex information.
  • Reduced ability to store and recall information – i.e. reduced memory function
  • Reduced ability to break complex tasks down into simpler individual tasks
  • Reduced ability to order and prioritise tasks

Have you experienced any of these symptoms or effects? Are you a victim of multitaskalism?

Is this even a real phenomenon? I’d love to know what you think.

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