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Fact: The human mind is not designed for heavy-duty multitasking. We can only fully focus on one thing at a time.

Psychological research over the years has shown that we are far worse at multi-tasking than we think we are. What we call “multi-tasking” is usually something known as “task-switching”, where are brains shift attention from one thing to another rapidly or frequently.

Studies have shown that people actually take longer to complete two tasks that take the same amount of time when they switch between them, instead of completing one task twice in a row.

We can’t actually focus on two things simultaneously, even if we think we can!

Talking on the phone and driving is the classic example of this. Take a look at what biologist John Medina wrote:

“Until researchers started measuring the effects of cell phone distractions under controlled conditions, nobody had any idea how profoundly they can impair a driver. It’s like driving drunk … Cell-phone talkers are a half-second slower to hit the brakes in emergencies, slower to return to normal speed after an emergency, and more wild in their “following distance” behind the vehicle in front of them… More than 50% of the visual cues spotted by attentive drivers are missed by cell-phone talkers. Not surprisingly, they get in more wrecks than anyone except very drunk drivers.”

Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist for Morgan Learning Solutions, publishers of the Easyread System. Easyread is an online course that uses a visual approach to phonics to help children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, reading problems and more.