Typical situation in the XXI century. You watch the favourite series on your monitor in a car in the time of driving. On the left hand side you have a steering wheel and a sandwich while messaging your friends on smartphone to the right. Doing many things simultaneously makes us think that we are not wasting time. Surely ?
Sometimes, but usually not. It is not necessary to be a genius or be Albert Einstein’s grand-son to know that if you are doing too many things at the same time, you are not doing them properly. It is also the best way to lose important time by reminding ourselves where we finished the last task and what we should do from then. But fortunately, every stick has two ends and you can enter a car by four doors.
A study conducted in 2015 at the University of Florida surprised me. People were asked to sit on exercise bikes and cycle for two minutes at a speed they want and can do without heart attack. Later they cycled again, this time with a screen in front of their faces which presented them twelve different types of cognitive tests. Some were easier than changing a bulb, some harder than changing a bulb during the ten-Richters earthquake.
In the easy tests they had to say “go” whenever they saw a blue star on the screen; in the harder tasks they had to memorise long lists of numbers and then recite them in reverse order. They also did similar tests sitting on a chair in a quiet room. The people who were riding a bike did their tests better and were cycling faster than normally.
What does it mean ? Multi-tasking is good when you are doing things as different as possible. Running and reading is a good example, it activates completely different parts of brain. But forget about simultaneous skiing and swimming.