Multitasking can kill!

by Julie Baird on November 1, 2009

Okay, maybe the title is a bit extreme; however trying to do many things at once can be dangerous. There are obvious examples of trying to do other things while driving – texting being the most recently publicize  cause of fatality. But how does this relate to schoolwork?

There was a recent report suggesting multitasking was worse than dope for reducing productivity! I have no evidence about this and would certainly never condone illegal substances but it did raise an interesting point how dangerous is multitasking for students?

I know just about enough of how the brain works to be dangerous, so I can relate a little theory. The brain works a bit like a computer; the more you try to do at once the slower everything becomes.

But worse; you are not actually doing things at the same time; you’re switching between activities all the time.

This means you never reach the level of performance that you can while concentrating on one thing. So each task takes longer to complete.


Compare the two parts of this graph. The first part of the graph demonstrates what happens when you are constantly switching between tasks. The second part is what happens when you do one task then move to the next.

Compare the area under the lines – this is the productive time. See how while multitasking there is so much less productive time? This means it will take much longer to complete the same amount of work if you adopt a multitasking approach.

So, the question becomes do you want to finish earlier or later?

Trust me – if you want to multitask – stick to working and breathing!!

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