Multitasking for Scientific Researchers: Pros and Cons

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  Jan 29, 2015   Enago Academy
  : Expert Views, Industry News

The term multitasking refers to moving quickly between different areas of work without losing focus. Some people are really good at it, while others find it terribly stressful and tiring. It can be productive while performing simple tasks, such as answering emails or phone calls. But it impacts those that require deeper concentration levels.

Here you have some pros and cons about multitasking while doing your research daily tasks:

Pros (for those, who find distractions relaxing)

  • Avoids Boredom

    Multitaskers like keeping their minds busy to avoid boredom and tiredness, especially when performing a repetitive task. Paying attention to several activities simultaneously helps them keep the concentration and break the monotony. For instance, it helps gravely while writing a scientific research article which requires a particular level of concentration and performing subsequent tasks.

  • Helps to Move Forward

    Multitaskers like to see how their to-do-list gets smaller. Many researchers face several deadlines simultaneously, and therefore prefer thinking that they perform as many things as possible every day. This way, they feel they avoid procrastination.

  • Prevents Downtime

    There is no doubt that multitasking can help make good use of breaks. Actually, to multitaskers who are usually dynamic persons that can quickly get concentrated, a while dedicated to a minor task can be a booster to come back to the main activity.

  • Trains to Cope with Chaos

    Many consider that multitasking prepares researchers for real life and real jobs, where workers need to cope with different tasks simultaneously.

Cons (for those, who consider it a risky habit)

  • Provokes Tiredness

    Switching between two tasks that require deeper concentration imposes a considerable effort on a human brain. Our minds need effort and time to stop what we are doing and start focusing on something new. If a researcher uses a large amount of his energy to change from one task to another too often, he is going to get easily tired, which could reduce his effectiveness.

  • Source of Distractions

    Small tasks are not breaks but distractions for non-multitasking people. Many are unable to focus well if they are constantly paying attention to other working tasks, social media, the telephone or chats with colleagues. For some of them, modern technological advances at the work place are a double-edged source.

  • Misleading

    If part of the attention is dedicated to change from one task to another, mistakes and omissions arise. This is a matter of concern when performing relevant tasks, such as writing a scientific research paper. Damage can be made if the researcher is not careful and looses his focus. This may lead to rejections by the peer reviewed scientific journals during publishing process.

  • Frustrates

    Performing many small tasks can make pro-multitasking persons feel rewarded. In contrast, it is a source of frustration for those who would rather keep all their attention on a main task and progress in it.

Multitasking has plenty of defenders and detractors. Its effectiveness depends on the researchers’ faculties and the kind of tasks they perform. However, regardless of our capacity to cope with it, and even though many experts consider it a bad habit, the ability to multitask is getting increasingly important in our working routines. How well do you deal with it?

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