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Urban legend

Men can't do it.

Women are great at it.

I would say it doesn't really exist. (But then YOU might say that, as a man, I WOULD say that!)

So what am I talking about? Multi-tasking.

Strictly speaking it means doing several things simultaneously. Some computer chips can manage it - in fact that's where the term arose in the first place.

Multitasking requires humans to segment their brains, think about two or more things simultaneously and make multiple decisions simultaneously.

While we might skip from one task TO another and back again, and respond to each task in turn - that is not multitasking. I think many people believe that task hopping is multitasking: it is no more multi tasking than channel hopping is watching two TV programmes simultaneously.


Doing just one thing at a time gets better results, takes less time over all and produces more satisfaction as you get to tick-off more tasks on your list. Remember every time you change tasks you need to re-tune your brain to the other task, recall where you left it and manage different information. With this in mind, it is easier to see why using a mobile phone while driving is crazy!

Office Cartoon #4005 by Andertoons

And interestingly enough, research carried out by Gladstones Regan and Lee in 1989 demonstrated that "people show severe interference when even very simple tasks are performed at the same time, if both tasks require selecting and producing action".There was no distinction between men or women in the study and it proved fairly conclusively that people performed better when they concentrated on one task at a time.

So I suspect that every man should take comfort from this and now, guys, you have the evidence you need to refute claims of multitasking spouses, associates, colleagues and employees.

Urban myth busted - once and for all.



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