The Myth of Multitasking
According to Forbes.com, multitasking is a dangerous pursuit:
“You’ve likely heard that multitasking is problematic, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain.”
“Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.”
Fast Company takes it a step further:
“Clifford Nass, a communication professor at Stanford, has provided major motivation for monotasking: according to his research, the more you multitask, the less you’re able to learn, concentrate, or be nice to people.”
“When we multitask all day, those scattered habits literally change the pathways in our brains. The consequence, according to Nass’s research, is that sustaining your attention becomes impossible.”
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking doesn’t contribute to your success. It actually works against you.
Resisting the Multitasking Temptation
The temptation to multitask is a daily challenge—especially with all the items that end up on your to-do list.
It’s a temptation that can be almost impossible to resist.
So if you’re still on the fence, try the exercise below.
Challenge: How Well Do You Multitask?
Let’s find out which approach is really more efficient—monotasking or multitasking.
Complete the following exercise in the two ways described below. Time yourself each round and write your times down so you can compare. (HINT: Use the stopwatch feature on your phone.)
Round #1—Monotasking: (AKA focusing on one task at a time): Write the entire alphabet THEN write the numbers 1 to 26. Record your time.
Round #2—Multitasking: Write the alphabet AND the numbers 1 to 26 as you alternate between the two (i.e., A,1,B,2,C,3,D,4, etc.). Record your time.
How much longer did it take you to complete Round #2?
It took me 28.64 seconds to complete Round #1 and 34.18 seconds to complete Round #2.
The challenge took 19.3% MORE TIME to complete when I was multitasking!
If we work the math backwards, that means I can be 19.3% MORE PRODUCTIVE if I stop multitasking!
(Share Your Results: Take the Multitasking Challenge and report your results on our Facebook Page. Compare your times against those of other readers. Show us how fast you are! Share with us at www.facebook.com/appreciationatwork.)
Consider Monotasking for One Week
The benefits of monotasking are clear:
• Better ability to learn
• Increased ability to focus
• More patience with others
• Better job performance
• Better recall
• A healthier brain
Why not take a break from multitasking for one week and see what happens?
Consider implementing these behaviors to help you stay more focused and less distracted:
• Group like tasks together
• Check email only once or twice a day at predetermined times
• Inform people via auto-responder of your new email policy so they will know what to expect with regard to your response time
• Turn off your mobile phone and put it out of sight
• Turn off your office phone, if possible, to work undisturbed for a period of time (if it’s important, they’ll leave a voicemail)
• Check your voicemail at certain pre-determined times of day
• Use a Do Not Disturb sign with a note telling drop-ins when they can come back
• If you have a door, close it. If it has a lock, lock it.
• Remove any chairs from your office. If they can’t sit down, they won’t stay as long.
• Post your to-do list where others can see it; when they ask you to do something for them, point to the list and ask which of your existing tasks you can drop in order to fulfill their request. (The fewer tasks you have to complete, the less likely you are to multitask.)
Imagine how implementing just one of these suggestions could improve your productivity.
Share Your Results with Us
Take the timed Multitasking Challenge above, try monotasking for one week, or simply implement one of the tips to help increase your focus and productivity. Then, post your results to our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you. Visit us at www.facebook.com/appreciationatwork.
TAMI CALL helps purpose-driven entrepreneurs and business owners reduce aligning their faith, work and life purpose. Her FREE book The Life Purpose Discovery Guide: 7 Tools to Help You Get Clear About Why YOU Are Here recommends easy-to-use tools to help you discover your gifts and find meaningful work you can enjoy.
To learn more about Tami Call, please visit www.GodandBusinessToday.com.
Tags: adhd, attention, Clifford Nass, focus, memory, monotasking, multitasking
Categories Blog, Work