Of course, some simple tasks can be done at the same time; say, blinking and breathing. But what about the more complicated things? Try an exercise from the hit show, Brain Games. Take one hand, and move one finger in a circular direction. Take your other hand, and move one finger in a square motion, but in the opposite direction. How fast can you go? Can you even do it at all?
Even the simplest of tasks can be nearly impossible grouped together. Here’s the explanation: “Humans, they say, don’t do lots of things simultaneously. Instead, we switch our attention from task to task extremely quickly.” NPR’s article, “Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again” explains the multitasking myth. At first, the simple task of turning your finger in a single direction seems like no big deal. When another aspect of the experiment is added, though, things begin to get more complicated. Your brain has to push aside previous information to make way for more. And when both tasks have to be performed at the same time, the brain begins to get a little overwhelmed. Therefore, both simple missions have been completely and totally jumbled.
Believe it or not, your brain actually has a built-in solution to avoid this potential meltdown. Instead of trying to tackle 2 things at once, the brain can actually switch from one thing to another at astonishing speed; so fast, it almost seems like 2 tasks are being performed at once. This evolution has been beneficial for success; by being able to “do many things at once,” productivity and success rate is increased.
Don’t let this stop you from “multitasking”, though. Just keep in mind that the entire concept is a lie.