Yes, you read that right. Stop multitasking and be MORE productive.
In this day and age with multiple monitors, computers and laptops, phones, and all kinds of different devices, it is easy to multitask.
But…. While you are multitasking are you actually being more productive?
There is a good amount of research on this topic, and the answer is no, you can actually be more productive by handling one task at a time.
Here are some of the reasons why multitasking is not all that it is cracked up to be:
1. You are not actually as good at multitasking as you think you are.
A 2013 university of Utah study focused on people who use their cell phone while driving, the study found that the people who scored highest on multitasking tests do not actually frequently engage in simultaneous driving and cell phone use, probably because they can better focus on an item at a time. Those who do talk and drive regularly (those who ranked themselves as good at multitasking), actually scored poorer on the tests.
2. You are actually only able to do one item at a time.
Think about it, if you are multitasking, for example, eating while revising a draft, you aren’t actually doing both at the same time, I mean unless you are getting nutrients from an IV tube…. You are either eating your food, or working on your draft, you are just fooling yourself that you are doing both at the same time, but in reality, you are just shifting between eating and revising a draft back and forth really quick.
3. Multitasking usually leads to longer time to complete a project.
Using the previous example, you are just extending the limbo period between the two tasks, and neither are getting done as quickly as they could if you just focused on one and knocked it out. The fact that you are constantly distracted i.e. looking down to take a bite of sandwich and then having to re-find your spot on the draft of a document you were reading and revising will just slow down the time it would have taken to just eat and finish that task, or to just go through the whole draft and enter revisions and finish that task totally.
4. Multitasking means more mistakes.
I’m sure you know this by now through experience, but if you are constantly switching between two different things, the chances of screwing one or both up is much much greater.
5. Multitasking will stop you from truly processing.
From personal experience, I know if I am trying to read something while on a conference call, either I will have no idea what is going on with the call while I am reading, or I will never really understand the document I am trying to read if I am focused on the call. The mind just won’t process all the necessary information if you are not focused on it.
6. Multitasking can actually lower your IQ.
A study at the University of London tested IQs and found that people who multitasked suffered similar cognitive deficiencies as people who smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.
7. Multitasking will stop you from generating better ideas.
If you are trying to juggle multiple items at once, you won’t have enough working memory to try to problem solve or think of other better ideas to solve your problems. While you may get the work done, you may be missing out on a better idea to help things relating to the bigger picture.
8. Multitasking will hurt your memory.
In a 2011 study by the University of California San Francisco, they found that quickly shifting from one task another will impact your short term memory negatively.
With all this information, maybe you will change how you take on projects and handle your tasks at hand next time.