Issue 267 - The ups and downs of multitasking

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Basic

Vocabulary: Activities

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The ups and downs of multitasking

Listen to the podcast and read.

The ups and downs of multitasking

We all do multitasking. You are probably doing it now. It is part of modern life. But is it an efficient way of doing things? Is it good for us?

The answer is not simple. It seems that it depends on what the different activities are, and also on your attitude, or motivation.

The word “multitasking” first appeared in the 1960s. With the computer age came many opportunities to multitask, day and night, at work and at home. Then smartphones made it possible to multitask even more more.

Multitasking has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that we feel we are getting a lot done, and maybe we are. A disadvantage is that dividing up your time between different things might mean that we aren’t doing any of them very well.

The University of Michigan did a study on multitasking. The study found that participants who believed that they were multitasking were more engaged and performed better than the participants who thought they were doing a single task. Of course, this doesn’t mean that multitasking is good for us. Another study described the neurological changes caused by doing many things at one time.

Multitasking is here to stay. The question now is how best to manage it and organise our work, life, studies and personal projects in a stress-free and sustainable way.

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Intermediate

 

The ups and downs of multitasking

Listen to the podcast and read. Then answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

The ups and downs of multitasking

We all end up multitasking. You are probably doing it now. It has become an integral part of modern life. But is it an efficient way of doing things? Is it good for us?

It appears that the answer is not so simple. It apparently depends on the nature of the different things you are doing, as well as on your attitude, or motivation.

The word “multitasking” first emerged in the 1960s. With the computer age came endless opportunities to multitask, day and night, at work and at home. The appearance of smartphones then increased these opportunities. Nowadays, it’s almost as if doing just one thing at a time is old-fashioned.

Well, the fact is, multitasking has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that we feel we are getting a lot done, and maybe we are. A disadvantage is that dividing up your time and focus on various different things at the same time might mean that we aren’t doing any of them very well.

At work it is inevitable that we do different things at once. The psychological effect of being hyped up appears to affect our performance, according to a study done at the University of Michigan. The study found that participants who believed that they were multitasking were more engaged and performed better than the ones who believed they were doing a single task. Of course, we should not confuse this finding with a belief that multitasking is actually good for us, as previous research described the neurological changes caused by doing many things at once.

The fact is, multitasking is here to stay. The question now is how best to manage it and organise our work, life, studies and personal projects in a stress-free and sustainable way.

Now answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

Comprehension: Check your understanding

Choose the best option.

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Advanced

 

The ups and downs of multi-tasking

Listen to the podcast and read. Then answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

The ups and downs of multi-tasking

We all end up multitasking. You are probably doing it right now. One way or another, it’s become an integral part of modern life. But is it an efficient way of doing things? Is it good for us?

It appears that the answer is not straightforward. It apparently depends not only on the nature of the different things you are doing, but also on your attitude, or motivation.

The word “multitasking” first emerged in the 1960s. The advent of the computer age then provided us with seemingly endless opportunities to multitask, day and night, at work and at home. The appearance of smartphones on the scene then extended the possibilities to mind-boggling proportions. Nowadays, it’s almost as if doing just one thing at a time is old-fashioned.

As a quick check, how many tabs do you have open in your web browser right now? What are the implications of this? Interestingly, according to an extensive Microsoft remote work survey, multitasking is ubiquitous in online meetings.

Well, the fact is, multitasking has an upside and a downside. The upside is that we feel we are getting a lot done, and maybe we are. The downside is that dividing up your time and focus on various different things at the same time might mean that we aren’t doing any of them particularly well, despite the gratifying feeling that we are being hyper-efficient and hardworking.

At work it seems inevitable that we are going to be doing different things at once. The psychological effect of going into overdrive appears to affect our performance, according to a study done at the University of Michigan. The study found that participants who believed that they were multitasking were more engaged and performed better than those who believed they were doing a single task. Of course, we should not confuse this finding with a belief that multitasking is actually good for us, as previous research highlighted the neurological changes wrought by tackling many things at once.

Either way, multitasking is here to stay. The question now is more like how best to manage it and organise our work, life, studies and personal projects in a stress-free and sustainable way.

Now answer the questions in the Comprehension section.

Comprehension: Check your understanding

Choose the best option.

Interview: listen to more about the topic

Think about your answers to the following questions. Then listen to somebody answering the same questions. Were your answers similar?

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