Are we good multitaskers? New study finds it's unlikely

(WEAU) - Juggling kids, talking on the phone and checking your email may be tasks that sound familiar. But do you find yourself trying to do them at the same time?

A local mother of five is all too familiar with the word "multitasking.”

"I would not claim to be a great multitasker. It’s something I do because if I don't try to do it all at once it’s just going to come apart at the seams,” said mother, Melissa Barfknecht.

Whether it’s washing the dishes while taking care of the kids or shoveling the snow while on her cellphone to talk to family in Florida, she multitasks on a daily basis.

"Dishes [are] something I try to do at the same time that my kids are doing homework because they can sit at the kitchen table. They're all at an age that they need some assistance or guidance," said Barfknecht.

But are we good at multitasking? A new study done at Utah University surveyed 300 people to find out.

"They found that those who were doing the most multitasking were the people who were generally worst at it and who had the highest opinion of their ability to do so," said David Leland, Psychology Professor at UWEC.

Leland believes multitasking may be more common in the younger generation because of technology. So I tested to see how students would react to doing more than one task at a time.

The students were asked to read an article while the professor asked about how many friends they had on Facebook. Students found that kind of multitasking wasn't easy.

Even when anchoring a show at WEAU you’re multitasking all the time. All at once, you’re following the words on your Ipad and teleprompter. Meanwhile you're editing the show on the laptop and listening into your ear piece in case there's breaking news.

"If you’re trying to do multiple tasks that are highly automatic. That is more feasible," said Leland.

Those activities include things like eating while watching television. However, talking on your cellphone while driving or doing other activities can be more difficult.

"I try to often fold laundry and talk on the phone at the same time. But my kids have a huge nack of knowing when I'm on the phone," said Barfknecht.


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