Improve Memory and Overall Work Performance by Avoiding Multitasking

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Multitasking is a talent that some of us have and many of us wish we did. But, is the whole do-two-things-at-once really all it’s cracked up to be? Turns out, it’s not. Multitasking may be an efficient means to get your work done, but it can get sloppy, fast, and even more troubling is that it can negatively affect your memory. So, instead of burdening your mind with more than one task at a time, realize that there is more to gain but focusing on one thing at a time. Improve memory and quality of your work by minimizing multitasking in your day-to-day life.

Multitasking can lead to making a mistake or missing important information and cues, making us less likely to retain information in our working memory. This can damage problem solving and creativity skills. Often when we multitask, we end up completing several things at once, but none particularly well. Constant shifting of attention between one task and another compromises brain space and causes us to be less effective at what we’re doing.

In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences, researchers found that disengaging from one scene to another makes it much harder to reestablish and contact with the original scene. The brain has scientifically demonstrated that switching between tasks causes it to lose time – it takes four times longer, in fact, to recognize new things. You make more mistakes, have a lower retention rate and are forced to repeat tasks because of having forgotten the information previously learned.

Technology doesn’t make our lives any easier when it comes to our ability to remember. In fact, technology hurts our memory, as we are constantly interrupted and distracted by texts, phone calls and social media browsing. Being pulled in a million different directions and always being connected harms the brain’s ability to remember and work effectively. Take it from the experts and improve memory by minimizing interruptions or divided attention.

According to some research, multitasking actually shrinks the brain. Dividing attention among several tasks now only changes how our brains work but also, as research now suggests, alters our brains’ very structure, and not in a good way. This is on top of the fact that multitasking has been linked with a shortened attention span, depression, anxiety and lower grades in school.

But in the realm of multitasking, women reign supreme. They are “hard-wired” to be better multitaskers, while men are better at focusing on single, complex tasks. Women have better connections between the left and right sides of the brain and men have more intense activity in the brain’s individual parts. Men are thus better at tasks such as swimming or parking a car while women are better at remembering a face.

However, regardless of who you are, multitasking can compromise the quality of your performance in just about every area of your life. The basic message: avoid distracting or noisy environments and try to distance yourself from excessive screen time in order to be the most productive and effective version of yourself! You'll improve memory and the quality of your life.

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Photo Credit: David Goehring

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