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Media Multitasking Is Hurting Your Productivity

You just started drafting a report for your boss when you remember that email you never finished replying to. Once you press send, your phone lights up with a new Instagram like, and you remember that you missed your friend's birthday...again. Before you know it, the rabbit hole of technology has set you back an hour.

If you think you've mastered the art of multitasking, think again. According to Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, your brain simply isn't optimized for split attention. Your prefrontal cortex is most challenged, followed by the visual and auditory areas of your brain, as well as the hippocampus. When you disrupt this system, you're bound to make mistakes and take much longer to complete important tasks.

When your brain takes in new information, it's unable to filter out the irrelevant information, thus slowing down the progress of your task at hand. In a 2009 Stanford study, students deemed "heavy media multitaskers" struggled to "pay attention, recall information or complete one task at a time." Evidence shows that even young "digital natives" are suffering from the distractions of their chronic multitasking.

However, Gazzaley insists: "You don't have to opt out of technology to get some of that brainpower back. In fact, there's a time and place for multitasking. If you're in the midst of a mundane task that just has to get done, for example, it's probably not detrimental to have your phone nearby or a bunch of tabs open. The distractions may reduce boredom and help you stay engaged."

Learn more about the effects of multitasking on your brain in the videos below.

Here's Why You Can't Multitask

Learn what actually happens to your brain when you try to multitask in the video below. Spoiler alert: It doesnt work!

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Multi-tasking is an illusion; you're actually just very quickly switching between two ideas. 00:16

  2. Your EQ is your emotional intelligence. 02:47

  3. Women perform multi-tasking better than men do, but only in certain situations. 03:52

Your Brain Craves More Information Than You Can Handle

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, explains why our brains aren't equipped to take in new information at the speed that we crave it.

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Can Your Eyes Multitask?

Science tells us over and over that humans cannot multitask. But one study shows that we might be able to multitask in one way... with our eyes. Hear about visual sampling in the video below.

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