Warning: Multitasking is Making You Less Productive

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I hate to be the one to break it to you, but, you’ve been lied to.

You’ve been led to believe that the key to getting things done is to become a master of multitasking. When in fact, just the opposite is true.

Multitasking is a myth

Your brain focuses on tasks sequentially, it does not focus on two things at once. Your mind must first disengage from one task, in order to engage in another and it takes several tenths of a second for your brain to make the switch. While that may not seem like a long time, many things can be missed in several tenths of a second.

I’m not talking about walking and chewing gum at the same time here, I’m talking about the brain’s ability to perform two complex tasks at once. Think texting and driving, working while surfing the web or your boyfriend’s attempts to have a conversation with you while watching TV. While he may think he’s accomplishing it, you can clearly detect that he is not fully engaged in the conversation. While you take a moment to look at your phone, you are taking your eyes off the road and putting yourself and others in danger. And let’s not kid ourselves, no work is being done while you’re checking your Facebook timeline.

What happens when you multitask

When you think you’re multitasking, what you’re actually doing is engaging your mind in one task, stopping, then engaging your mind in another task. It’s like constantly pushing on the gas and then slamming on the brakes. After you’ve hit the brakes, it takes a few seconds for you to get back up to speed. Therefore, attempting to multitask actually slows you down.

The truth is, if you are attempting to do multiple things at once, you aren’t giving 100% of your brain power to anything. And if you aren’t giving your best to everything you do, you are depriving yourself, your employer and the world of your best work possible.

The solution

I know that focusing on one task at a time is not the cool thing to do. I’m sure that many employers would not even hire you if you told them that you did not plan to multitask on the job, but that’s because they’ve bought into the myth. If they knew the truth, that by focusing your attention on one task at a time, you would be giving 100% of yourself to that task and therefore getting it done right, with fewer mistakes and in a shorter amount of time, I think they’d go for it.

Are you willing to try “singletasking” as a way to boost your productivity?

 

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