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Multitasking Hobbies

Hobbies and Multitasking

While we can’t really multitask, we can switch tasks. Although task switching is commonly thought to be inefficient, it can actually be beneficial. Hobbies can help us practice and improve our task-switching skills.

Can We Really Multitask?

Many people believe that multitasking, or doing multiple tasks at once, is a desirable and efficient skill. However, scientific research has shown that our minds are not capable of multitasking in the true sense of the word.

What we actually do when we think we are multitasking is task switching, or shifting our attention from one task to another rapidly.

Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly.

The Myth of Multitasking | Psychology Today

Is Task Switching Beneficial?

In some cases, task switching can have negative effects on our performance, such as slowing us down, reducing our accuracy, and increasing our stress levels.

Doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity.

Multitasking: Switching costs | merican Psychological Association

Despite Common Opinion, Task Switching Can be Beneficial

However, task switching is not always bad. It can sometimes have positive effects, such as enhancing our creativity, flexibility, and problem-solving skills.

Whereas past research has focused on the downsides of task switching, the present research uncovers a potential upside: increased creativity. In two experiments, we show that task switching can enhance two principal forms of creativity—divergent thinking and convergent thinking—in part because temporarily setting a task aside reduces cognitive fixation.

“Switching On” creativity: Task switching can increase creativity by reducing cognitive fixation – ScienceDirect

We propose that multitasking behavior influences creativity on subsequent tasks and that it does so through a serially mediated process in which multitasking increases activation, which increases cognitive flexibility, resulting in a positive effect on downstream creativity.

More tasks, more ideas: The positive spillover effects of multitasking on subsequent creativity | American Psychological Association

Moreover, sometimes in life, task switching is unavoidable or necessary, such as when we have to deal with multiple demands or emergencies.

Therefore, improving our task-switching skills (or multitasking skills, if we insist), can prove beneficial.

Hobbies Can Help Us Practice and Improve Our Task Switching Skills

As with any other skill, task-switching can be improved with practice. Engaged practice is more effective than disengaged one. This is where hobbies come into play.

Hobbies can provide us with a great opportunity to practice and improve our task-switching skills, as well as to have fun and relax.

Additionally, hobbies can foster mindfulness, which is the ability to pay attention to the present moment with openness and curiosity.

Mindfulness has been proven to improve task switching by reducing the interference of irrelevant thoughts, enhancing attention control, and increasing the awareness of task goals.

We found reduced overall reaction times (i.e., for both switch and no-switch trials) in mindfulness compared with worry and free mind-wandering conditions.

Effects of Brief Mindfulness Meditation on Attention Switching | springer

Mindfulness could ease the process of concentrating on a new task while reducing mind wandering, which is linked to other ongoing projects. […] Other possible benefits include finding better solutions in case of time conflicts. Most importantly, mindfulness could be a means of reducing perceived emergency, which leads from one task to another while sometimes losing track of one’s life goals and priorities.

Mindfulness-Based Programs Improve Psychological Flexibility, Mental Health, Well-Being, and Time Management in Academics | MDPI

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