Multitasking is becoming a hot topic in the enterprise world as millions of workers not only bring personal devices into the office, but also tap into a widening variety of social media.
In response, a small industry has grown around the notion of “mindfulness,” or teaching employees to be more effective in their jobs by learning to concentrate and eliminate distractions.
Despite the overwhelming body of research, not to mention plain common sense, many people argue that multitasking actually increases their effectiveness, and that younger professionals especially – the “Millennials” – are “wired differently than those above 35 years of age,” as this Mobilize.org blogger writes.
That last “fact” will come as a surprise to some neuroscientists, since changes to the brain tend to take a bit more time than, say, one generation. And even if “wired differently” merely means Millennials are better able to adapt to a multitasking world, well, the research just doesn’t support that.
That being said, recent research described in Psychology Today shows that 2% of people – “supertaskers” -- have the ability to perform multiple tasks without their performance suffering.
David Strayer, director of the applied cognition lab at the University of Utah, told Psychology Today that supertaskers actually do have different brain structures than the other 98% of people:
“These brain regions that differentiate supertaskers from the rest of the population are the same regions that are most different between humans and nonhuman primates.”
Great news for our supertasking overlords, if not for rest of us. And since evolution isn’t likely to help us catch up over the span of, say, a smartphone product cycle, we probably should adjust our work habits to accommodate our humbling limitations.
(H/T to The Daily Reveille)