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Want to complete your surveys for money faster? Ditch the multitasking

Want to complete your surveys for money faster? Ditch the multitasking

You may think multitasking is an insanely valuable skill today. With emails to respond to, chores to do and tasks to manage, the people who can juggle everything effectively stand out. But their secret likely isn't really "multitasking." According to the experts, multitasking isn't all that effective.

"The human brain doesn't really multitask," Art Markman, cognitive psychologist and author of "Smart Thinking" told Entrepreneur magazine. "What the human brain does is what I call time-sharing."

According to Markman, the brain can only effectively handle one task at a time. Your cognitive resources focus on one task and then the next very quickly, giving people the impression that they're completing multiple things at once when really they're just dividing their time - similar to the way vacationers share a time-share property.

The overall effect: Switching from one task to the other and back ultimately slows down the thinking process. Instead, it may be more beneficial to tackle that to-do list one item at a time. That is, unless the items are rote tasks or very similar.

The silver lining in multitasking
A rote task includes any activity that can be completed using very little brain power. Think of anything that you have developed a considerable amount of muscle memory for. Riding a bike would be a prime example. Working the pedals and balancing takes a very low amount of thought. 

In the same way, a mother feeding a child might be able to complete paid surveys at the same time, or a sous chef could prepare a meal while keeping track of the other orders in his head. Unfortunately, many of the things you do throughout the day aren't exactly rote tasks.

That's why Markman suggested multitasking with similar tasks only because switching mindsets is easier with closely related activities.

"The more times you switch, the more times you have to keep changing the state of your brain," Markman told Entrepreneur. "You're losing time."

In other words, answering emails between answering online survey questions is reasonable - both tasks incorporate the same cognitive abilities. Reading a magazine while learning a song on a guitar, on the other hand, isn't easy or efficient because the tasks involved are require different you to use very different areas of the brain.

The big takeaway
Ultimately, this all comes down to one big seed of advice: Focus on your activities one at a time to achieve the best results. If you want to complete your surveys faster and answer the questions more comprehensively, all your attention should be put into that activity alone.

Does that mean you can't have your favorite TV show running in the background? Not necessarily. Just remember that you'll either be paying more attention to the tube and slowing down your survey process, or you won't remember the events in the show as well as you would like to.

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