I am UIC: A case against multitasking

woman using laptopWhat exactly are you doing at this moment? Chances are you’re not just reading this article. In fact, you’re probably reading this article on a split screen while watching a YouTube video and trying to figure out the derivative of cos(x) squared. Music’s probably playing in the background and your hands are busy spreading almond butter on the apple you didn’t finish slicing.

Now, are you really being efficient or are you, as the late Stanford sociologist Clifford Nass put it, just “chronically distracted?” In an interview with Science Friday’s Ira Flatow, Nass said that people who consistently multitask do worse in a range of cognitive tasks from sorting out irrelevancy to managing a working memory.

And, believe it or not, they are even worse at multitasking than people who seldom do it.

James Hamblin, a former radiologist and current health editor for The Atlantic, compares life in a constant state of multitasking to an internet browser opened with an unreasonable number of tabs in his video series If Our Bodies Could Talk. It seems almost impossible to use the internet with only a single tab open, but that is exactly what we need to begin training ourselves to do.

Although single-tasking may seem like a daunting endeavor, I guarantee that it will increase productivity, creativity, and a sense of fulfillment in everything from schoolwork to entertainment.

So, take a close look at your browser, see how many tabs you have open, and think about what you’re doing with each tab. Assess your level of motivation to engage with each tab’s content. Then close all of the tabs that are irrelevant to the task at hand. You can start with this one.

Hoda Fakhari is a senior studying biochemistry and English with a concentration in media, rhetoric and cultural studies. She is interested in making connections between subject areas that appear uncomplimentary in order to arrive at more diverse and relevant ways of understanding people and society.

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