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Benjamin Kohli
Allison Fernley
English 1010
April 8, 2015
Is Multitasking Beneficial or Counterproductive?
During the last decade, research supports the fact that there has been an increase in the
number of individuals claiming to be successfully multitasking at the projects that they are
involved in. So what exactly does multitasking mean? Well, to some, it is the ability to do two or
more things simultaneously, but to others, its seen as just the ability to switch quickly from one
thing to the next. Although we might be confident in our ability to do many things at once, are
we really being productive at the things that we are accomplishing or is it just merely a faade of
completeness?
Conlon, Clara. So You Think You Can Multitask? Think Again. Lifehack. Web. 4 Apr. 2015
In So You Think You Can Multitask? Think Again, Conlon asserts that the brain is
incapable of actually focusing on two things at once. She explains that what we might perceive
as multitasking is actually just the brain quickly switching from task to task. However, she also
explains that when driving a car or riding a bicycle, the brain is capable of running the task in the
background. In other words, when we drive a car or ride a bicycle our brain is able to function
automatically. You dont even really think about what you are doing, you just do it! The
interesting thing is that if something out of the ordinary occurs, our brain is still able to focus
back on doing the task required.

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Conlons article is primarily logos, providing analogies on multitasking. She effectively


illustrates the process of multitasking though her comparison of the computer and the human
brain and draws similarities to the way our brain multitasks. It was clear that she had a firm
understanding of how the brain worked as well as how the computer processor works. By
relating the brain to a computer processor, Conlon provides a clear understanding as to how the
process of sharing brain time or switching from task to task works.
I will use this article to help explain how the brain handles multitasking. The analogy on
how the brain works will help in creating logos in my synthesis. In addition, by incorporating her
research on how the brain can run tasks in the background I can potentially talk about texting
while driving.
Thompson, Derek. If Multitasking Is Impossible, Why Are Some People So Good at It?
TheAlantic. 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 4 Apr. 2015
In If Multitasking Is Impossible, Why are Some people so Good at It?, Thompson
explains that there is not a perfect world in which we are able to avoid multitasking all together.
He explains that although we might believe that we are actually good at multitasking, we are not.
What we are actually doing is compensating for our inability to multitask by using our ability to
single-task in rapid succession. Thompson defines multitasking to be the art of paying
attention. Those that are heavy multitaskers are just asking for new distractions, but that is
okay because attention isnt their intent. Their intention is to get as much done in the least
amount of time possible.

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This article is witty, yet informative. He portrays his logic to the reader effectively
through understandable analogies and quotations. It is evident from studying this article that
Thompson is extremely knowledgeable about this topic.
Thompsons article provides me with greater insight into how multitasking works. By
incorporating some of his analogies and quotation into my synthesis paper, my paper will have
added humor and depth.
Merrill, Douglas. Why Multitasking Doesnt Work. Forbes. 8 Aug. 2012. Web. 4 Apr. 2015
In Why Multitasking Doesnt work, Merrill argues that although multitasking is
something that everyone does in the 21st Century, the truth is, we are actually wasting time. He
explains that even though we might think we are good at it, science shows otherwise. On the
other hand, Merrill also explains that multitasking has value if we are doing rote tasks, such as
folding laundry while talking on the phone. These types of tasks do not require much brainpower.
Further, he explains that the mistakes and confusion from multitasking generally occur
when the person is trying to accomplish two dissimilar tasks, each task requiring some level of
consideration and attention. Merrill states that If you cannot recall it, you cannot use it. And,
presumably you are trying to learn something from whatever you are doing right? Instead of
actually helping you, multitasking works against you. It is making you less efficient, not more.
(Merrill)
Merrill is very logical and provides the reader with plenty of real world situations to the
reader relate to his perspective and appeal to the rhetorical tool of pathos. He provides a variety
of scenarios that we all can relate to and understand. In addition, he also cautions the reader with

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vivid details from personal stories of how devastating texting while driving can be. Drivers
should never text while driving. This is the most dangerous form of multitasking.
I believe that by incorporating some of his research into my final paper, I too, can gain
credibility by quoting Merills personal stories and examples that all can relate to.
Hamilton, Jon. Think You're Multitasking? Think Again. NPR. 2 Oct. 2008. Web. 10 Apr.
2015.
In Think Youre Multitasking? Think Again, Hamiltion argues that we are not as good
as we think we are at doing multiple things at the same time. He explains that although we might
believe that we can do a lot of things simultaneously, scientific research has proven that instead
we merely switch our attention from task to task extremely quickly. In addition, Hamilton also
explains that multitasking highlights a human skill that gave us an evolutionary edge.
(Hamilton)
He includes a number of credible sources, interesting stories, fascinating analogies and
direct quotations that help to develop his credibility. By including research and supporting
evidence on what the brain can do and not do, it seems to me, that my understanding has been
heightened, and I see now, that there is some benefit from doing certain types of multitasking. In
fact, if you choose not to multitask, you cant keep up with the demands of living in the 21st
Century.
In addition, I believe that by incorporating the research provided by neuroscientist, Earl
Miller, I can gain credibility as it supports my thesis for my upcoming paper. These findings

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would provide me with a strong counterargument as to whether or not multitasking is actually


beneficial towards productivity or not.
Konnikova, Maria. Multitask Masters. NewYorker. May. 2014 Web. 10 Apr. 2015.
In Multitask Masters, Konnikova explains that multitasking not only slows reaction
time, but decreases overall attention. She states, that according to David Strayers research on
multitasking, drivers using cellphones even hands-free devices were at just as high of risk of
accidents as intoxicated ones. This confirms the fact that texting and driving are a lethal
combination and this type of multitasking is against the law for this reason.
However, Konnikova explains that Dr. Strayer also found someone that is an exception to
the rule. After collecting research for 25 year, he found a woman in London whose performance
improved through each multitasking test. Remarkably, her abilities improved when she was
driving and doing other tasks, which contradicted or defied the norm.
According to Strayer, this unique ability is considered a genetic phenomenon and only
effects about two percent of the population. He states that you are either born with the neural
architecture that allows you to overcome the usual multitasking challenges, or you are not. No
amount of practice will make people into super tasking stars.
The author provides credibility by using studies from the well-known University of Utah
Professor, David Strayer. Not only does this provide the reader with scientifically supported
research, but it also would provide my paper with strong points of view and credible statistics.

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It seems to me, that by using Dr. Strayers research from London, that in effect, It would
allow me to prove both the positive and negative effects of multitasking. This would allow my
paper to be both unbiased and credible.
In conclusion, multitasking can be both beneficial and counterproductive. Through
studying the research based on this subject, it is apparent that the benefits of multitasking are
based on an individuals unique ability to perform different types of tasks. Also, these finding
support the fact that texting and driving are hazardous, and should rarely be utilized. It is true
that in the 21st Century we are expected to function in fast paced lifestyle, but we must
selectively choose what tasks to multitask!