The Truth About Multitasking
Do you multitask often? Do you think you’re good at it? You might be multitasking at this very moment by reading this blog, drinking your morning coffee, and…buzz buzz…your phone just notified you that you got an email. As a multi-tasking pro, you probably would have checked it even if you were in the middle of reading this blog. However, if you’re like most of us, your attention would have shifted the very second your phone vibrated, causing you to lose your focus. Now that you’ve read the email, it’s going to take a few seconds to refocus on this blog—and a few seconds here and there throughout the day can really add up. This is the problem with multitasking.
Most of us live in an environment where we are constantly being pulled in a million different directions. We feel it’s nearly impossible not to multitask because we are always being reminded of the other things we are supposed to be doing or that need to get done. Think of all the times you saw an important email you were waiting on come through during an important meeting. Did you open that email and read it, despite the fact that you were in a meeting? If so, do you have any idea what you missed in the meeting while you were reading the email? How long did it take you to get back on track with the meeting after you read it? Now that I got you reconsidering the virtues of multitasking, think about this:
Research suggests that multitasking is neither effective nor efficient and is not as productive as working only on one task at a time. Researchers have found that when you switch from one task to another, there is a lag time because the brain has to refocus on the new task. For simple tasks such as doing a load of laundry and talking to a friend on the phone, the lag time is so miniscule that you might not lose enough productivity to even notice, which makes you believe you can switch between tasks without effort. But the truth is, there is indeed a lag time when switching tasks, and when it comes to complex tasks, the lag time is much greater and can cost as much as 40 percent of your total productive time.
So, the next time you find yourself multitasking with the goal of being more productive, STOP, remember this blog, and focus on only one task at a time to increase your total productivity. If you’re like me and get easily distracted, try muting your phone and computer volume when you’re working on a specific task, so your focus isn’t interrupted by that buzz buzz. You might be surprised how much more you can get done.
Join me next week for another relevant business-psychology blog, providing you with tips and tricks to increase your efficiency and productivity in the workplace. If you would like to be notified when a blog is posted, subscribe here. And check out my other blogs on time management and stress management.