We think we are good multitaskers. We are not. In fact, neuroscience shows that we really don’t multitask, we simply switch back and forth between tasks, with each switch burning brain glucose, losing attention, and increasing cortisol levels. It also sucks time: shifting from one task to read an e-mail, for instance, requires fifteen minutes to get back into the first task, lowers productivity by up to 40 percent, doubles your rate of error, and diminishes memory. Bottom line is that you don’t have time to multitask.
Not only that, if you’re trying to multitask while engaging with someone else, it shows. Your kids don’t know that you’re looking at your phone because you’re ordering items for them or because your impossible boss is demanding a response. They just presume that they’re not worth your attention at that moment—not what you intend.