No Human Being Can Multitask - It is Physiologically Impossible - and It is Psychologically Bad for You

Have you ever listened to or taken part of dialogues related to multitasking?

I have.

Sometimes - in my view - there are even very odd dialogues about a claim that females are better at multitasking than males - which is nonsensical. Human beings are human beings no matter their gender or other arbitrary attributes we might consider.

Stating that men are better at Y than women or that women are better at X than men is very odd - to say the least - in my view - even when considering chromosomes. If I had a Euro for each time I have heard the women are better than men at multitasking, I would be “filthy rich” - and I am not. But this myth seems to be something many believe in - just as many believe they are able to multitask - which they are not - unless it is considered multitasking to breath heavily while making your heart beat faster and listening to rap music while out for a jog. It should be self-evident that the majority of time we are not conscious about our breathing or heartbeat - while this can be influenced with practice.

So for the sake of my scribblings here consider things that the majority of time happens automatically via our nervous system as a non-concern while considering multitasking - and whether to deliberately singletask over multitasking.

I will go so far as to state - that often times - human beings suffer from the cognitive bias that they are able to efficiently do multiple tasks at the same moment in time. This is in my view definitely a flawed mental model.

Consider the following very crude and simple example.

I am the father of two young children currently aged 10 and 5 (at least my wife tells me I am their father which I choose to believe :slight_smile:).

Sometimes in the mornings they ask my help to tie the shoelaces on their shoes. There is one shoelace per shoe and I have to tie the laces in such a manor that they are easy to untie - so I create a bow.

If I now consider one of my children’s right foot, right shoe and right shoelace as task A for me to complete - and then the same for the left task B - then I think it is fair to say that these two tasks are so similar that we can consider them identical for arguments sake.

Now. What is more efficient considering my desire to complete both task A and task B in good quality and as fast as possible?

Option 1: Completing task A before starting on task B?

Option 2: Starting task A and then switching to task B before completing task A?

This is a very crude example.

What happens when the tasks are more complicated or even complex?

What happens at work in big organizations where multiple human beings believe that they can individually multitask as well as multitasking with work tasks where coordination with multiple colleagues are needed?

@tendon covers this topic in his book: Tame Your Workflow.

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