Two-thirds of teens surveyed in a Los Angeles Times poll believed that multitasking did not affect their learning abilities, which inspired me to look into the negative effects of multitasking. After discovering that there were no large-scale quantitative studies on this matter due to limitations in previous methods, I decided to create a new methodology myself.

A common method developed in 2001 was to have participants use handmade papers with shapes and numbers on them to conduct manual pattern-matching tasks, which I found to be both inefficient and inaccurate. Instead, I had the idea of creating a computer-assisted tool, which creatively used standard playing cards that allowed for simulation of more complex, real-life multitasking situations and fine-tuned data collection by trials.

I have since developed different Multitasking Test apps on iOS (using Swift), Android (using Java), and web (using Python and JavaScript) platforms to measure and report users’ task-switching costs (i.e. time and accuracy lost when multitasking). Using my web version, I conducted an independent psychological research experiment by testing over 1,000 participants worldwide, leading to significant results with a research paper published (DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.20319/pijss.2018.43.323340) in PEOPLE: International Journal of Social Sciences, an international peer-reviewed journal. In order to increase awareness of multitasking costs, I published my apps on iOS (up to v2.3) and Android platforms, which won 2018 U.S. Congressional App Challenge Finalist. I have also received many encouraging comments from users, such as, “Very interesting test and a very smart design! I tend to multitask a lot as a college student but this made me think twice about multitasking during study time. Thanks!”