Multitasking gets tested

multitaskingI pride myself in being a good multitasker, and I’m sure I’m not alone! Over the years my casual (but now numerous) observations have led me to believe that women are generally better multitaskers than men. Also, I believe this quality further improves with motherhood.
I may be wrong but it seems to me that mums are particularly good at handling many things at the same time. After all they (still in most cases) keep the family running! They can breastfeed while buying groceries online, then immediately switch to bathing the toddler while remembering to defrost the meat for dinner and load the washing machine with their husband’s dirty jogging clothes.
Isn’t this multitasking? Isn’t this a nice ability to possess?
Well, not everybody thinks so. The NYT reports the results of a Stanford study which has investigated the cognitive abilities of good multitaskers and found no advantage whatsoever if compared to low multitaskers. They were shocked too, but it seems that when a self-declared multitasker is bombarded with information his brain in the end does not work very efficiently. They actually performed all the tasks worse than the others.
So maybe the study was not designed well, maybe what I call multitasking is not really multitasking… or maybe good multitaskers are not necessarily smarter than the rest, they are just better multitaskers.
After all in many circumstances it’s more important that things get done more than how they get done. For example, it’s obviously more important that children get fed on time rather than receiving a gourmet supper.
So, call me stubborn… but I still consider multitasking a good thing.

-Michela

2 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. claudia | September 11, 2009 | Reply

I agree with you that multitasking is very important, especially if you have to run the house and the kids.
I would love to see how the multitasking tests were, because probably they were testing how a person solved a mathematical problem, while reading a novel and writing a diary… this tests sometimes only test how a person do a very specific task forgetting all the rest.

2. Esther | September 13, 2009 | Reply

I am sometimes proud on being an efficient multi tasker, but sometimes I defrost my husband’s dirty jogging clothes, give the dinner a bath and put the kids on the washing machine… Or someting! ;-)

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