The Supertasking 2%

The Supertasking 2%

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess


The first article I saw that confirmed (always a nice thing) my personal belief that multitasking was the best way increase incompetency was in the WSJ in 2003, although some of the first experiments were in 1999.

A growing body of scientific research shows one of jugglers’ favorite time-saving techniques, multitasking, can actually make you less efficient and, well, stupider.

Six years later research using students at Stanford, who grew up doing multiple things simultaneously, the verdict on multitasking, was reinforced. Most interesting was the proof that the more a person multitasked in their lives the worse they did on the tests.

Multitasking is not efficient, nor does it get more work done faster. Quite the opposite. One task interferes with another, so everything takes longer because the brain loses time–and accuracy–in repeatedly shifting its effort.

Around the same time David Strayer, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, who has been studying attention—how it works and how it doesn’t—his whole career, made a surprising discovery.

Much to his surprise, he identified a tiny group he calls “supertaskers.”

In this case tiny really means tiny—around 2% of the population.

Worse, for the 98%, practice doesn’t help, since it turns out the ability is most likely genetic.

Of course, humans being humans, people assume they are part of that 2%.

“The ninety-eight per cent of us, we deceive ourselves. And we tend to overrate our ability to multitask.” (…) The better someone thought she was, the more likely it was that her performance was well below par.

The researchers have developed an online version of the test, so if you are curious or actually think you are part of that 2% you can take the test and know for sure.

Image credit: University of Newcastle in Australia/Strayer

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