We all do it: texting while walking, working on several projects at the same time. In today's society, doing one thing at a time seems inefficient, even time wasteful.
But chances are, you’re not doing yourself any favors by multitasking your way through the day. Researches show that it’s not nearly as efficient as we like to believe. Furthermore, it is harmful to our health and productivity.
So, here are 5 reasons why you should immediately stop and reconsider the way you work and live.
1. You`re not really multitasking
What we call multitasking is actually a trivial task-switching. When it comes to productivity, our brains have a finite amount.
When we work on something, it takes most of our mind, and there`s not much left for other activities, except automatic behaviors like walking or chewing.
Thus, moving back and forth between tasks actually wastes productivity. Because our brain is concentrated on the act of switching gears we never fully get “in the zone” for either activity.
2. It slows you down
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking doesn’t save time. In fact, it will take you longer to finish two projects when you’re jumping back and forth than it would to finish each one separately.
Do you want to ensure this in practice? Let`s play a game!
- Take a piece of paper and draw two horizontal lines.
- Set up a timer of have a friend help you measure the time as you carry out the task.
- Write “I am a great multitasker” on the first line.
- Write out the numbers 1-20 sequentially on the second line.
How much time did it take to carry out both tasks? Usually it takes around 20-30 seconds.
Now, let’s multitask!
Just like before, take a piece of paper and draw two horizontal lines. Again, have a timer set up or a friend to help you. But this time, write a letter on one line, and then a number on the other, then the next letter in the sentence on the upper line, and then the next number in the sequence, changing from line to line.
In other words, you write the letter “I” and then the number “1” and then the letter “a” and then the number “2” and so on, until you complete both lines.
So how much time did it take you to carry out this task? Usually it takes 40 to 50 seconds, and it`s much harder to stay concentrated.
3. You tend to make more mistakes
We lose 40% of our productivity. It also causes us to make more mistakes, especially if one or more of activities involves a lot of critical thinking.
4. Your memory may suffer
It makes sense that if you try to do two things at once, you’re going to miss important details of one or both. But even interrupting one task to suddenly focus on another can be enough to disrupt short term memory.
When University of California San Francisco researchers asked participants to study one scene, but then abruptly switched to a different image, people ages 60 to 80 had a harder time than those in their 20s and 30s disengaging from the second picture and remembering details about the first. As the brain ages, researchers say, it has a harder time getting back on track after even a brief detour.
5. It reduces your creativity
Multitasking requires a lot of what’s known as “working memory,” or temporary brain storage, in layman’s terms. And when working memory’s all used up, it can take away from our ability to think creatively.
Studies show that multitaskers often find it harder to daydream and generate spontaneous “a ha moments”.
So, stay productive! Do less at once and accomplish more!