Multitasking is the act of juggling various tasks or activities at the same time.
If I’m taking notes in class, listening to the lecturer with one ear, and listening to my friend with the other while also stealing glances at my crush, I’m multitasking.
You can also call it focusing on one task at a time while keeping track of other tasks.
For example, if you are writing an article while checking your phone for notifications, having rice cooking in your kitchen, and keeping an eye on your nephew and niece, you are also multitasking.
Multitaskers manage many responsibilities by doing many things at once or almost simultaneously. They usually see the need to accomplish a set of tasks simultaneously.
Depending on the kind of tasks you are engaged in and how knowledgeable, inexperienced, or skilled you are at Multitasking, it may be a strength, weakness, and an advantage or disadvantage.
It may also add to your productivity or reduce it.
Based on these, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of Multitasking from different points of view and whether you should or should not multitask.
Advantages of Multitasking
Although Multitasking can be pretty demanding and distracting, it has its perks and is useful in different scenarios. A few of them are explained below.
It saves time
Being able to multitask effectively and efficiently is a time-saving technique. Multitasking allows you to create time for other things if you can manage your tasks simultaneously, thereby saving you time.
Like cleaning your room while listening to an educational podcast, you’ve been postponing.
Instead of listening to a 45-minute podcast while doing nothing and probably dozing off at some point, clean your room while at it, so you can be active and also create time for cooking, research for an assignment, or anything else that requires your time.
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Enhances flexibility and adaptability
The ability to multitask also helps you train your mind to be flexible and adaptable.
This way, it becomes easy for you to move from one task to the other, accomplishing various tasks almost simultaneously despite distractions.
Students who can write complete notes in class while listening attentively to the lecturer have learned and trained themselves to be excellent at Multitasking, as only some have the superpower of doing two things simultaneously.
Hence, they can adapt to situations outside the school where they must listen and take notes simultaneously or do similar things.
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It prevents procrastination
Being able to multitask helps to prevent procrastination as well.
When you know you have many tasks to accomplish, with deadlines in the corner, jumping from one job to the other helps you to resist the urge to move them to another day, knowing well that you’re already started on the tasks.
If you have to study for a class test and have an assignment or two to submit with a close deadline, starting and making progress on each would sometimes be better than postponing one or more of them to another day.
Thus, multitasking skills are helpful and sometimes needed in our day-to-day activities.
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Disadvantages of Multitasking
On the flip side, based on research, the brain cannot simultaneously focus on so many things.
Instead, it gives a certain level of attention to one thing and lesser attention to others.
Thus, when Multitasking is not done correctly, it poses more harm than good. Here are the disadvantages of Multitasking;
It Produces low-quality output
Because attention is divided while multitasking, the brain is distracted, so the quality of work output is likely not the best.
For instance, if you are cooking and working on an assignment while at it, you may be so focused on the assignment that you don’t pay enough attention to what you are cooking.
This may result in a burnt offering as a meal or a poorly prepared meal.
You may also be so focused on the food that you ignore the assignment, resulting in a substandard or ‘wuru wuru to the answer’ type of assignment.
It results in mistakes
Since Multitasking involves working on different things almost simultaneously, you are bound to mix up things and make mistakes because of distractions.
Like the example given at the beginning of the article (the class setting), in a situation like that, you may miss some critical points from the lecturer and even make mistakes in the notes you are writing.
As a result, it may affect you while you’re studying for your exams and eventually affect your grades.
Leads to stress and burnout
Because you’re focusing on many tasks, your brain may overwork itself by trying to process many things simultaneously.
Imagine trying to do many things at once when your mind hasn’t been trained to do so; you may mix up whatever it is you’re trying to do.
This may cause stress that may lead to burnout, eventually slowing you down such that you cannot finish any task.
Should you multitask ?
It is important to note that Multitasking is usually effective mainly when the other activities don’t require a lot of mental processes or thoughts.
And so, while Multitasking may be a good idea for some people and in some situations, it may be a terrible one for others.
Depending on the context and your abilities, whether you should multitask doesn’t have a specific and direct answer. What doesn’t work for others may work better for you.
Multitasking requires you to identify what works for you and implement it while avoiding distractions as much as possible.
Being intentional about prioritizing your tasks, timing yourself, and creating an enabling environment is essential.
But remember, the end goal is not just to finish your tasks but to do your best to ensure a productive and credible output.
If you have a question on whether or not you should multitask, this article has answered that question.
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- I am a student of Obafemi Awolowo University. A Gen-Z and advocate for the Soft Life. I spend most of my leisure time as a freelancer, creatively curating content and telling relatable stories. I am also passionate about quality lifestyle.