In today’s high-tech, immersive society, “multitasking” has become B-I-G.  And many people frown on “monotasking.” But is this good? Can you really text and pay attention to your professor simultaneously? (LOL 🙂 )

According to study after study, no we can’t really multitask well. Here are four examples:

12 Reasons to Stop Multitasking Now!

Multitasking Is Killing Your Brain

Neuroscientists Say Multitasking Literally Drains the Energy Reserves of Your Brain

Why Humans Are Bad at Multitasking


Now consider these observations by Verena von Pfetten (a freelance writer, editor, and consultant with 10 years of digital publishing experience) for the New York Times:

“Stop what you’re doing. Well, keep reading. Just stop everything else that you’re doing. Mute your music. Turn off your television. Put down your sandwich and ignore that text message. While you’re at it, put your phone away entirely. (Unless you’re reading this on your phone. In which case, don’t. But the other rules still apply.) Just read. You are now monotasking.”

“Maybe this doesn’t feel like a big deal. Doing one thing at a time isn’t a new idea. Indeed, multitasking, that bulwark of anemic rĂ©sumĂ©s everywhere, has come under fire in recent years. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that interruptions as brief as two to three seconds — which is to say, less than the amount of time it would take you to toggle from this article to your E-mail and back again — were enough to double the number of errors participants made in an assigned task.”

“Monotasking is a 21st-century term for what your high school English teacher probably just called ‘paying attention.’ As much as people would like to believe otherwise, humans have finite neural resources that are depleted every time we switch between tasks, which, especially for those who work online, can happen upward of 400 times a day, according to a 2016 University of California, Irvine study.”

“The term ‘brain dead’ suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.”


Click the image to read more from von Pfetten.

Art by Andy Rash

Art by Andy Rash


13 Replies to “Monotasking Vs. Multitasking”

  1. I am not necessarily a multi-tasker but I am extremely schedule orientated. I feel that a person should focus on one job at a time, but be able to handle multiple jobs over a specific time period if that makes sense. You need to be able to do work that benefits multiple areas so that you do not leave behind a certain area of work because you have one thing to do. I have noticed that even area specific workers have multiple things they must handle at once which is the right thing to do. One problem I see with multi tasking is the fact that you will get procrastinated from all your objectives because your mind is not focused on one thing.

  2. I think that most people strive to be a multitasker. Even in jobs, employers says that multitasking is a good skill to have. However, when trying to multitask, we do not perform each task correctly most of the time. Meaning, if we monotasked, we could get the task done effectively and efficiently. Multitasking takes away from quality, of course we will have bigger quantity, but it does not matter if the task is not performed correctly. I found the article interesting when it said that even listening to music and doing your homework can effect the performance because I do that frequently. Multitasking can be helpful with small things, but for a big job we should try to focus on one task at a time.

  3. I barely really think about that whether or not I am a really a multi task person. I just have to multi task all the time because I only have 24 hours a day. Also, multitask is also a necessary skill in my resume if I want to be hired in today’s competition. Maybe multitask is not good sometimes because we cannot focus on what we are doing (like class, sorry), but sometimes we might get used to the model to multitask. For me, I am going to try stopping multitask in class.

  4. I think it really depends whether multitasking is a good thing or not. Different people has different abilities. Furthermore, it also depends on what the tasks are. I think repetition of the physical actions could be doing together with brain actions. For example, most of people are able to replying emails while they are running on a running machine. And most people reading newspapers while they are having breakfast. But when it comes with the multitaskes which requie your brain could give responses at the same time, most of times the results would be disapointing. It would increase the possibilities of making mistakes and slow down your efficiency. And meanwhile you would get more pressures, which will leads more bad consequences. So I really hope that we can advocate people focusing on what he/ she was doing at the present instead of doing ” multitasking”.

  5. I believe that multitasking is something that can be necessary in certain situations. I don’t believe that it is necessary when you make your own situation. I think texting while you are in class is a situation that you create, and for something like that, the act of multitasking is not needed. When you are in a work environment, situations occur such as having to be on the phone, and listening to customer about something else. During a situation like this, the strength of multitasking can be very helpful.

  6. I think monotasking and multitasking are two different methods to resolve problems. Sometimes, monotasking can let people finish a task very efficiently, some people call it flow. But there are also some people think multitasking can make people become more creative. I have read a basic point view from a new book: Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives. The author shows that if people want to be creative and resilient, they need a little more disorder in their world. Monotasking can let us do things orderly and multitasking can motivate creativity. Hence, I guess we should use monotasking when we want to finish a task efficiently and use multitasking when we need some new ideas.

  7. I did put multitasking on the resume. This blog makes me rethink the pros and cons of multitasking and monotasking. Multitasking sounds really cool, but monotasking maybe more efficient. But I think it depends. Therefore, I will test it, experiment which one works me better for me within this week;)

  8. I used to envy those people who can handle multitask simultaneously, since I can only do one thing at a time; otherwise, nothing can be done well. But after I read this article, I felt a little bit relieved. Multitaskers may not be more productive and may make more mistakes. Time seems never enough, and there always seems to be someone going faster than me. Maybe the right way to deal with it is to try to become a more focused and efficient monotasker rather than a multitasker.

  9. Even after learning about the fact that monotasking is more effective than multi-tasking, I still feel the need to multi-task because college courses give students so much work. However, once I read the fact that a distraction of 2-3 seconds done in the Journal of Experimental Psychology can double a person’s errors compared to those who did not have a distraction, I believe people should think twice before multi-tasking. If monotasking is truly better, then focusing on the one task is clearly more effective than trying to do a million things at once. Ultimately, I will try and monotask more often since it has proven to be better than multi-tasking.

  10. “Monotasking” needs people to pay careful attention to one thing and to try their best to do one thing at a time. “Multitasking” is the word that is nearly listed in every job description. In the past pace world, companies need their employees to do their job efficiently and effectively. If we cannot focus on more than one thing at a time, we need to know how to organize all the work needed to be done. If people are well-organized, they can assign each job according to the priority and importance. In this way, they can handle multiple tasks and won’t feel exhausted.

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