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Can Multi-tasking Impair You?

This is a controversial subject with some science noting that multi-tasking improves cognitive abilities, and other science saying it impairs it.  Mindfulness practices note that by paying focused attention and being in the present moment, we can be at peace and be our best.  From the mindfulness model I equate a focus on multi-tasking as a way to split our attention and potentially miss what’s right in front of us in favor of maximizing time.  Studies done in 2005 at the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London noted that workers who were distracted by emails and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.  Areas of the brain impacted by multi-tasking were the frontal lobes (emotional regulation, higher reasoning, appetite regulation), the limbic region (emotional charge, fight or flight), and the mesolimbic region (reward system and appetite).  Maybe there’s truth to both sides, that in some cases multi-tasking is exercising the brain and in other cases it’s compromising the brain.  Perhaps notice today how much of the moment you can savor when you’re multi-tasking.  Maybe you can opt to multi-task when all tasks are mundane, and slow down to pay focused attention when the task has a greater priority for you.

Lisa Wimberger
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