Why Should We Stop Multitasking?

It has come to my attention that I’m distracted. The one task I gave myself this morning was to write this blog. But in the 45 minutes since I sat down to focus on writing, I got a phone call, a couple of text messages, and 5 emails that needed quick responses. Then I realized I was hungry, so I got a snack. Just now, my phone buzzed at me: 4 new emails and a Facebook friend request. And so, after 45 minutes of writing, I have one measly paragraph to show for it.

 

But it wasn’t really 45 minutes of writing, was it? More like 30 minutes of distractions, 10 minutes of gathering my thoughts and refocusing on writing, and 5 minutes of actual writing. Which brings me to the heart of what I want to talk about today: multitasking.

 

Multitasker

Multitasking is the efficient-sounding *pause to respond to a text message* phenomenon of doing multiple tasks simultaneously or, more accurately, quickly switching back-and-forth between tasks. *Pause to think about another email I need to write today.* Where was I? Oh yeah, why should we stop multitasking?

Multitasking sounds great, but in reality, our brains weren’t designed to do multiple concentration-requiring tasks at once. Sure, we can probably chew gum and walk at the same time; both require muscle-memory, but not much concentration. Not like writing a blog and carrying on a conversation with someone at the same time. The brain can’t focus on both things at once. So instead, we put the writing on hold to have the conversation. When we switch back to the first task, we’ve lost our train of thought and can’t instantly pick up where we left off. All the time it takes to refocus can reduce our productivity by as much as 40%!

So, Why Should We Stop Multitasking?

  • Because we will actually be more efficient when we focus on 1 task at a time.
  • Because we will make fewer mistakes when we focus on one task at a time.
  • Because we will be more calm and better able to cope with stress (all that mental switching back-and-forth caused by multitasking takes a toll)

 

Here is a great article on how to spot multitasking tendencies and break bad habits. For me, I turned off notifications on my computer and I put my phone in the other room so that I wouldn’t hear it buzz at me with every new email. And Wham! Blog accomplished!

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