Summary Paper Assignment

Summary Paper Assignment Words: 748

Jessica Carlson Professor Adrienne Cassel English 24 September 2010 Summary of “Multitasking Can Make You Lose…Um…Um…Focus …Focus”. According to Alina Tugend in the article “Multitasking Can Make You Lose” people are more prone to doing multiple things at once. Although multitasking may seem to preserve more time, according to many studies will produce less effective results. Since the early 1990’s multitasking has been thought of as an efficient way of saving time in our busy everyday lives.

Emailing and chatting with multiple people at once online, watching television and talking on the phone are a couple of examples of how people tend to juggle multiple tasks. Activities of entertainment such as music, talking on the phone, or television can at times be invigorating when working on a task. Focusing on the task at hand at the same time can in many cases cause the individual to lose focus. Edward Hallowel, a psychiatrist and author of CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! (Ballantine, 2006). “Multitasking is shifting focus from one task to another in rapid succession. Depending on the activity or the individual you may or may not be benefiting from doing multiple tasks at once. Technology at one time forced a single person to focus on one task and not enable the comfort of performing multiple tasks at one time. This allowed an individual to focus completely on the person on the other line of the phone or household chores separately. Concentrating on a friend while on the phone and typing a paper cannot be done simultaneously. It is very difficult to keep your attention on two things at once while focusing, time can be lost.

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Earl Miller, the Picower professor of neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has explained that “in humans, the prefrontal cortex is about one-third of the entire cortex which is the part of the brain that contains the “executive control” process”. This helps us change from one task to another. Even though people are truly focusing on one thing, as time has progressed they are required to do multiple chores in a shorter period of time. This has forced the brain to be able to change attention quickly to another topic. David E. Myer, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan did a study on young adults xecuting tasks and the process of difficulty to interchange from one assignment to another. Studies proved that individuals taking part in the activities wasted time when they had to go back and forth from one thing to another and the harder the task, the longer it took to complete an assignment. The RAC Foundation, a British nonprofit organization that focuses on driving issues did a driving simulation study on driving while texting. The study proved that a person’s reaction time was slower when texting while driving, even slower than driving under the influence.

Interruptions do occur and when they do, according to a 2005 study found “that people were interrupted and moved from one project to another about every 11 minutes. And each time, it took about 25 minutes to circle back to that same project. ” While avoiding multitasking is beneficial it is also very difficult considering how often multiple disturbances are being faced in today’s society. It is normal to not realize switching from one task to another. Currently people have formed or are forming a routine of constantly switching tasks, which is influencing shorter attention spans.

Professor Gloria Mark, a professor of Informatics states that people are people are not spending enough time one projects and are being interrupted either by themselves or someone else. They are reporting that workers feel pressured which is resulting in higher stress levels and frustration. Dr. Hallowell has compared “attention deficit trait, which is an effort to multitask” to attention deficit disorder discovering the differences which were environmental vs. neurological. Trying to keep up with a multitude of jobs there is always a small underlying feeling of failure.

Regardless of how someone may feel that they are unable to control the situations around them and the constant feeling that they are responsible for multiple activities at one time, they are wrong. Setting boundaries allows an individual to focus on one task thoroughly. This requires discipline when the opportunity arises to “shut down” all other obligations focusing on the task at hand. Placing these boundaries gives overtime the ability of “the art of single-tasking” Work Cited Alina Tugend, Multitasking Can Make You Lose…Um…Focus, New York Times, 2008

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