Multitasking may not be productive, but it feels good. That’s according to an Ohio State University study that looked at why multitasking keeps growing in popularity, even though it’s been proven to reduce productivity, and make us less efficient.
The researchers tracked the real-life activities of college students for a month, and had students rate how effective each activity was in improving their grades, helping them relax, and helping them maintain their friendships.
Most volunteers checked emails, sent text messages, and watched TV while doing schoolwork. But a few kids hit the books without distractions. The result? Students who focused solely on their work gave themselves low marks in the “friends” and “relaxation” categories, and high marks for improving grades.
But the multitaskers were just the opposite. They scored themselves low on “productivity.” But they consistently rated their study sessions as “extremely effective” in meeting their social needs. They also rated the quality of their sessions higher overall than the kids who actually finished their schoolwork. To put it simply, the enjoyment of texting and watching TV helped the multitaskers ignore the fact that they weren’t getting much out of their books.
And because multitasking increases emotional satisfaction when kids study, even if it hurts their grades, a majority of the students said they couldn’t do their work if they didn’t have their phone, TV, or iPod on while they were studying.