You are working on a project, when suddenly, “Ting!”, a viber message. You answer it and go back to what you’re doing. After a while, another interruption – an email notification, a text message, a phone call… You deal with it then resume your project. This is called Digital Multi-tasking.
A lot of people justify – “Multi-tasking, I can do it and I’m good at it.” However, Neuroscience has learned that our brain cannot multi-task. We only task switch. When we do this, it decreases our productivity by 40% and causes us to overlook and misinterpret crucial meaning and details (Nicholas Carr) . It also dampens the ability to be creative and even drops the IQ by 10 points according to the Institute of Psychiatry.
Daniel Levitin, the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal explains: “This multi-tasking and all this task switching depletes glucose in the brain, which causes us to get cloudy-headed and tired. We feel depleted because we’ve literally depleted these chemicals” In addition to that, Dopamine is also fired from the brain which makes us feel good and causes the addiction to it.
Another form of multi-tasking is Hyperlinks found on our webpages, ebooks, Kindle, etc. Nicholas Carr explains “Evaluating links and navigating a path through them involves mentally demanding problem-solving tasks that are extraneous to the act of reading itself. Deciphering hypertext substantially increases readers’ cognitive load and hence weakening their ability to comprehend and retain what they’re reading.”
So when we use our digital devices for reading, we must establish the discipline of not switching task. We can do this by turning off notifications or disabling wifi on our devices.
We should retrain ourselves to Uni-Tasking. Some practical suggestions are:
– not having devices during family time, nor in the bedroom
– do one subject or task at a time
– not listening to music while doing homework (except in doing visual art)
– silent and disable notifications during meetings
– put a do not disturb sign
#DigitalCocaine (Chapter 2) #DigitalMultitasking