Why Multitasking Is Bad for Your Brain

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iStock

Have you ever felt that you get less done when you multitask? You’re not imagining things. In fact, Larry Kim, founder and CEO of Boston-based Facebook Messenger marketing company MobileMonkey, points out in an article for Observer that you’re actually hurting your brain by juggling several undertakings at once. 

Since we aren’t wired to focus on more than one thing at a time, cramming multiple tasks onto your to-do list will actually slow down your cognitive processing. You’re unable to organize your thoughts or filter out unnecessary information. As a result, your efficiency plummets—and so does the quality of your work. In fact, one study at the University of London revealed that subjects who multitasked while performing brain-intensive tasks demonstrated IQ drops similar to people who are sleep-deprived or smoke marijuana. Still not convinced? Multitasking is also linked to increased cortisol production, a stress hormone that leaves us feeling tired when we need energy to concentrate [PDF]. 

Once we start multitasking, it’s hard to stop. Each time we complete a small task—sending an email, tweeting, etc.—our brains are blasted with a dose of the reward hormone dopamine. It feels good, which means we’re likely to keep bouncing back and forth between tiny, unimportant goals without getting anything major done. And even if we’ve set aside time to delve into a time-consuming project, the mere knowledge of a new email or text lurking in our inboxes can keep us distracted. According to some research, this constant anticipation can actually lower our IQ by as much as 10 points.

One study from the University of Sussex in the UK indicates that forms of multitasking can cause cognitive damage, Kim warns. MRI scans showed that subjects who consumed multiple media forms at once had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, the region associated with empathy and emotional control. Scientists still haven't concluded whether or not multitasking is permanently harming our brains. However, there's overwhelming evidence that it harms our lives.

How can we break this insidious cycle and form new habits? “Protect yourself from the multitasking mental massacre by establishing an e-mail checking schedule,” Kim advises. “Commit yourself to checking emails only three times a day (maybe when you get in to work in the morning, at lunch time, and before leaving work at the end of the day). Turn off texting notifications and choose specific times to check your phone as well.” This way, you can buckle down and focus on the things that really matter.

[h/t Observer]

10 Simple Tricks for Charging Your Smartphone Faster

Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images
Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images

Smartphones always seem to reach low power at the least convenient moments possible. If you've ever urged your device to charge faster in the minutes before a phone interview or when you're about to board a plane, you can relate. While the easiest way to avoid this scenario is to plug in your device before the battery dips into the danger zone, if you've already reached this point, there are simple ways to speed up the charging process.

Some hacks for charging a phone faster involve steps you can take in anticipation of the next time you're surviving on minimum energy. Certain gadgets, like special chargers and battery packs, will power-up your device more efficiently than others. For moments when your phone is dying and all you have is your regular charging cable, adjusting your phone's settings to minimize the power it consumes also works in a pinch.

You can find some specific ways to charge your phone quickly below: 

  1. Plug it into a wall outlet instead of a USB port.
  1. Use a portable battery pack.
  1. Buy a special "fast" phone charger.
  1. Switch to low power mode.
  1. Switch to airplane mode.
  1. Let your phone drain completely on its own once a month to the extend the battery life.
  1. Close any background apps.
  1. Stop automatic app updates.
  1. Don't check your phone while it's charging
  1. Keep your phone out of the heat.

For more tricks for making your phone usage more efficient, check out these tips for typing faster.

The 20 Best States for Singles

monkeybusinessimages, iStock via Getty Images
monkeybusinessimages, iStock via Getty Images

Being single on Valentine's Day means you don't have to worry about cards, gifts, or date ideas. But if you'd like to do something romantic on February 14, your chances of snagging a date in time may depend on where you live. WalletHub crunched the numbers to create a definitive list of the best states to be single and looking for love in America.

To come up with its rankings, the personal finance site analyzed numerous data points for each state, including the proportion of single adults, nightlife and entertainment opportunities, and economic factors like cost of living. Combined, these qualities paint of picture of where you're most likely to find, afford, and enjoy a date.

Florida secured the number one position with a total score of 69.21 out of 100. Though it comes in 33rd out of the 50 states for economics, it places third for dating opportunities and fourth for romance and fun, earning it the top slot. It's followed by California with a score of 67.41 and Texas with 66.77. You can check out the top 20 states below, and see how all 50 states ranked at WalletHub.

  1. Florida // 69.21
  1. California // 67.41
  1. Texas // 66.77
  1. New York // 65.29
  1. Pennsylvania // 64.61
  1. Ohio // 63.10
  1. Illinois // 62.61
  1. Wisconsin // 61.13
  1. Massachusetts // 59.11
  1. Michigan // 58.56
  1. Arizona // 57.22
  1. New Jersey // 56.71
  1. Georgia // 56.11
  1. Colorado // 56.01
  1. North Carolina // 55.58
  1. Minnesota // 55.42
  1. Virginia // 54.98
  1. Washington // 54.76
  1. Missouri // 54.29
  1. Nevada // 53.64

The world uses Valentine's Day to celebrate romance, but you can take it as an opportunity to embrace singledom in 2020. If that's your plan, here are some vintage tips for living alone to keep in mind.

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