Multitasking // Our inability to split attention


The image I have taken for this illustration is a common sight at my workspace – multiple devices. At home, I often work with my computer, as well as my iPad and iPhone close by. Sometimes I’ll be streaming a show as I edit pictures, or listening to music. Where I work on campus, I have even more screens surrounding me. When I edit pictures at work, I have two 27” monitors and a Wacom tablet with its own screen to work on. Then, next to all of this tech, I have my phone.

The point I’m illustrating through all of this is Weinschenk’s thoughts on “People Can’t Actually Multitask.” During the reading, Weinschenk notes that we aren’t actually able to fully multitask. Though we’re able to switch quickly between tasks, the two cannot occur simultaneously. My photograph helps to display this principle by showing that we are constantly using multiple devices. I have even read that this is often a trouble for advertisers: even though a TV commercial may be playing before our favorite show, a fair portion of the audience is likely looking at another digital device. We’re constantly distracted by the technology around us – often making it difficult (or impossible, according to Weinschenk) to focus on two tasks at one time.


8 thoughts on “Multitasking // Our inability to split attention

  1. I would agree with your argument and Weinschenk’s thoughts on people not being able to fully multitask. I think we all believe we can multitask when for instance we’re watching television and doing homework or driving and reading a text, when in reality we’re only focusing on one or the other. I actually read a Forbes article recently that stated that multitasking reduces efficiency and performance because our brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking, or trying to do multiple things at once actually reduces our attention spans because we try to flip between both tasks quickly. Our brain lacks the capacity to do both tasks successfully at the same time making it impossible to fully multitask. As you mentioned, we are constantly distracted by the technology around us, which inhibits our ability to multitask successfully.


  2. Hey,

    I myself am like you, I have a lot of monitors surrounding my workspace, and I believe it does help me “multitask” or if anything it at least helps me jump from one task to another much faster. So I agree with Weinschenk in that you can’t actually do more than one task at a time. your brain can’t do more than one thing at a time. great post

  3. I also feel like true multitasking is not something that’s possible. That being said, it is more than possible to do a few tasks at the same time, as long as all but one of them requires little to no mental effort. I myself am uploading files to my google drive as I type my response. While this technically counts as multitasking, it basically boils down to me clicking a few buttons and moving on to another task.

  4. I can totally relate to this because I feel like all of us at some point multi-task its part of human nature. So I have to disagree with the author of our article. We cant completely devote the same percent of attention to all the tasks we are doing but we can dedicate enough to get them done. I work at a customer service desk. All day long I’m transferring calls while trying to do returns and taking customer complaints and so on. Same with school, I try to do my homework, eat, do more paper work, listen to music and text my friends. It’s hard but its part of our every day lives.

  5. I agree with you take on multitasking especially when it comes to the workplace. Being a Software Engineer, I constantly have multiple platforms in front of me that I need to interact with throughout the day. While some things feel like they help productivity it’s common that I lose my train of thought because of the technology in front of me.

  6. This is my favorite way to complete homework or get things done on my computer in general. I often have a tv show or music playing on my tablet, Facebook or Instagram on my phone, and homework or general other work I have to do on my laptop. I am actually very productive this way because I am constantly moving from device to device, when I need a break or have hit a mind block with homework I look at social media or watching some of my show more intently and when I am ready to go back to the productive work I was doing it is still up and right in front of me. It truly helps me stay motivated!

  7. I think that as the technology we’re accustomed to becomes more convenient and ample, the more impatient we get to diversions. When one form of stimulus such as TV becomes interrupted by a commercial, we turn to another form of stimulus such as our phones. I think that while working though, multitasking can be a vital part of working efficiently.

  8. I find this to be a very profound and relevant example of Weinschenk’s belief that true multitasking is a myth. Rather, we are able to seamlessly transition between thoughts and cognitive process, each performed one at a time. In no better realm is this best represented than the multitude of devices we have access to throughout our lives and what seems to be our ability to make use of multiple devices at once.

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