Free Essay On Douglas Merrill, Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work, 2012
Douglas Merrill, a former CIO at Google, in his article “Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work” argues that there is no such thing as successful multitasking. He claims that human brain simply doesn’t have this ability and therefore multitasking is counterproductive. Trying to do several things simultaneously works only for rote tasks.
The limitation of the human brain capacity is the main reason of such a disappointing conclusion. According to Merrill, we can only store between five and nine things at the same time. Exceed this limit and your brain won’t store some things in your short-term memory and consequently won’t transfer them into the long-term memory. Obviously, you can’t recall what you don’t have in your long-term memory.
Merrill goes on to claim that multitasking is equally bad for everybody, regardless of the age. It’s a common misconception that kids are better at multitasking. Brain limitations are the same at any age and the same “five to nine” rule applies to everybody.
Multitasking is counterproductive and dangerous, so Douglas Merrill’s advice is to learn to concentrate on one thing at a time instead. Much more can be accomplished this way.
I believe that multitasking is a bad habit. Looking back at some of my own experience I realize how things have slipped my mind just because of me trying to do several brain-intensive tasks simultaneously. Reading a book and having a conversation. Watching TV and doing homework. I have no doubt in Merrill’s main argument that there is a limit to how many things our brain can store at once. But is it so simple to avoid multitasking?
The truth is: we don’t always have a choice. Concentrating on a single task is often a luxury. Modern society puts an ever-growing pressure on an individual. Just try to imagine what life was like in the era when there was no television and no radio and compare it with nowadays, for example. It was easy to read a book and concentrate on it. Not today. Many employers expect their workers to do several tasks at the same time. Prioritizing them and then completing one by one is not a universal skill. It requires a lot of discipline. On top of work assignments, there are also some other distractions: internet, cell phone, colleagues and friends eager to chat. The list is endless.
One thing Merrill is absolutely right about is the fact that multitasking is sometimes not only bad, but dangerous. His example about driving and writing a text message is very convincing. Another example that comes to my mind is crossing a busy street and listening to loud music with the earphones on.
I think that multitasking is an example of common misconception and more effort should be applied to make it a common knowledge.
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