You Aren’t Really Multitasking and 99 Other Surprises

The things you find on the web: going from one thing to another, you click, you stumble on stuff, I have to say, I love it. Yesterday I found Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. in Psychology, who has a fascinating series called 100 Things You Should Know About People. That’s on a blog I found called What Makes Them Click.

For example, her #7, You actually can’t multi-task:

The research shows that people can attend to only one cognitive task at a time. You can only be thinking about one thing at a time. You can only be conducting one mental activity at a time. So you can be talking or you can be reading. You can be reading or you can be typing. You can be listening or you can be reading. One thing at a time.

She finds one exception:

The only exception that the research has uncovered is that if you are doing a physical task that you have done very very often and you are very good at, then you can do that physical task while you are doing a mental task. So if you are an adult and you have learned to walk then you can walk and talk at the same time.

But even there, she has doubts related to walking and talking on a cell phone. And then she attacks the common assumption that the millennial generation does multi-task while the rest of us don’t, with research from Stanford to back her up.

It’s all very interesting. And I found it reading 7 ways to improve your writing, by the so-called James Chartrand, on CopyBlogger. She (yes, James is a woman, but that’s another story) used one of Susan’s surprises to talk about ideal line length. I love the web. Maybe that jumping around isn’t multi-tasking, but it is multi-interesting. And kind of fun.

(Image credit: ifong/Shutterstock)


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