The Myth of Multitasking Test

Watch this video, and then try the exercise yourself or with a group. (You will need paper and pencil for this one, plus a stopwatch or watch with a second hand.)

Time the following with your stopwatch:

  1. Write out the following sentence, “Switchtasking is a thief”. Then write the numbers 1 through 21 on the line beneath.

Next, time the following with your stopwatch:

  1. Now write the same sentence and numbers on two new separate lines of the paper, but this time alternating writing one letter and one number at a time (ex: “S” with a “1” on line below, “W” with a “2” below, etc.

When you’re finished, discuss:

  • Did it take almost twice as much time to complete this task when you were “switchtasking”?
  • Did the quality decrease (sloppier handwriting, mistakes)?
  • Did you feel more stressed in doing the task the second time around?

How does this correspond to driving? Any activity that takes your mind off of the task of driving is a form of multitasking or switchtasking. You will be more apt to make slower choices, mistakes and have increased stress.

Stay focused on the ONE task – driving safely.

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