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So you think you can multitask? Texting while driving? No problem. Watching television and reading the Bible? No problem. Checking your email while listening to a spouse, a child, or a friend? No problem. In reality, however, according to a team of researchers at Stanford University, multi-tasking causes big problems.

A Stanford University news service article announced the study this way: "Attention, multitaskers (if you can pay attention, that is): Your brain may be in trouble." The researchers originally set out to discover what gave multitaskers their special focus; instead, they were surprised to discover that in many ways multitasking impairs performance. So while many people think they're effective at juggling multiple tasks, they're actually pretty lousy at it.

For instance, heavy multitaskers are suckers for distraction and for irrelevancy. According to one of the researchers, "Everything distracts them." Multitaskers were also more unorganized in their ability to keep and retrieve information. They were even worse at the main thing that defines multitasking: switching from one task to the next. Heavy multitaskers underperformed in almost every area of the study.The article based on the study concluded with this advice: "By doing less, you might accomplish more.

[Stanford News Service, "Media multitaskers pay mental price, Stanford study shows," (8-24-09)]

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