Multitasking seems like a great way to get a lot done at once. It might even seem like you are accomplishing many things at once, research has shown that our brains are not nearly as good at handling multiple tasks as we like to think we are. In fact, some researchers suggest that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as much as 40 percent!
"Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work? It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.” – Tony Schwartz
What is Multitasking?
First, let's start by defining what we mean when we use the term multitasking.
• It can mean performing two or more tasks simultaneously
• It can also involve switching back and forth from one thing to another
• Multitasking can also involve performing a number of tasks in rapid succession.
From the definition it would seem that multitasking is a good thing and something we should all strive for in our lives. Have you ever had one of those days where you have been heavily multitasking and then gotten to the end of the day and thought - 'what have I actually achieved?'
I mean technology means that we can text, list to our friend talking while having coffee, right? But when doing all these things are we really actually doing all of them? We have the illusion we are but actually our mind just shifts focus from one thing to another and a gap in attention occurs for about half a second which is called an 'attentional blink'.
Should we be encouraging Multitasking?
Consider the following:
• Each time you switch from one task to another you lose time, not much but it adds up
• You have to refocus on the new task at hand. This refocusing takes its own share of time and energy
• Because of the continual switching you cannot wholly concentrate. Not only that you can get distracted by even more things and that also costs you time
If however, you focused either till it is complete or in say 20 minute blocks then you might just see more benefits such as:
• Actually saving tine
• Getting better results
• Getting more done
• Less frustrated from unfinished tasks
• Feel much greater satisfaction
Something else for your consideration -
“Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects." Gary Keller