When we multitask, by definition, we can only do the one thing we’re attending to directly well. We think working this way—doing more than one thing at a time—is efficient, but it may not be, for several reasons:
- Multitasking impairs future recall. Memory is a function of attention and concentration. Why do you think you can enter a room and forget why you did so? Because in between the time you thought of the reason to enter it (e.g., to find your keys) and the time you actually entered it, you allowed your mind to focus on other issues.
- Multitasking risks poor performance. Complex tasks like writing or conversation require our full attention. If you allow yourself to do other things (e.g., read email messages) the work product you produce may be so substandard you have to spend extra time reworking it later.
- Multitasking prevents you from enjoying what you’re doing while you’re doing it. Enjoyment also requires our full attention (what’s known as “mindfulness”). If while watching your son play in a playground you’re thinking about your next task today, you may not even remember him laughing as he slides down the slide head first.
-Regina Tate, LPC