Jack Uldrich
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Do We Need to Unlearn Multi-Tasking?

Posted in Advertising, Business, Creativity, Culture, Education, General, Marketing, Neuroscience, Psychology

A series of newspapers and Internet sites are reporting on new research, profiled in the latest issue Multitasking of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which suggests that multi-taskers are worse at multi-tasking.

Before jumping on the bandwagon and decrying the scourge of multi-tasking, I would encourage you to read this thoughtful post from one of my favorite unlearners Cathy Davidson.

Nevertheless, I believe the study is noteworthy for one reason in particular: low-multitaskers think they are worse at multitasking and high multitasker think they are gifted at it.

This is a classic example of why so many people could benefit from unlearning — overconfidence. In particular, often people either think they know more than they actually do or, alternatively, they believe they are better at a certain task than they actually are. (If you don't believe me, read this old post on over-confidence or, better yet, try this little quiz.)

If you are a multi-tasker, I am not suggesting that you unlearn the skill — only how proficient you believe you are at the skill. (Preferably, I'm hoping you'll unlearn your over-confidence before you slam into the side of my car at some intersection because you were texting a friend while at the same time checking out the latest Tweet from Shaq.)

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