Once upon a time we were all told that the way to get ahead and the key to productivity and a happy life was multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is essentially doing multiple things at the same time and doing them all well. Using to the maximum every second we have was the mantra most of us learned in and out of the business world.
However, life coaches, philosophers and self-help gurus etc have maintained that multi-tasking is fundamentally detrimental to your health. And it is not efficient at all.
Recent scientific studies have shown that 2% of the population can multitask with any efficiency or effectiveness. 98% of the population ends up losing productivity because we have been told that multi-tasking is the way to live and we should be proud of our ability to multi-task. Nothing could be further from the truth.
How Multi-Tasking Affects Productivity
Until very recently, multi-tasking was the by-word of American industry. This fact soon made multitasking a worldwide phenomenon. However, recent research calls these beliefs into question and indicates that not only does multi-tasking not work, it can actually cause serious problems.
Research is beginning to show that our minds are not developed in such a way as to move from one activity to another activity without any bridging time or adjustment in-between. There needs to be a very short period of time for this adjustment, and that period of time is not well spent productively.
If you focus on one task until it is done without moving back and forth between tasks, your productivity will increase, and you will not have that unproductive time between tasks. In the opinion of some researchers you are not really multi-tasking at all. You are merely switching between tasks, and switching tasks takes time. In fact, multi-tasking can decrease productivity by up to 40%.
How Multi-Tasking Affects Your Life
Not only does multi-tasking affect your productivity, it also affects all aspects of your life. When you are multi-tasking, you are basically under stress. Dealing with stress on a regular routine basis is not good for your health nor is it good for the well-being of your brain.
Researchers are discovering that the human brain is not designed to split its attention between multiple tasks at one time. We have been taught to believe we are capable of multi-tasking though we really are not. When we attempt to multi-task, we don’t allow our brains to focus and in so doing we could do damage to the brain. These same studies seem to show that multi-tasking can cause the brain to overload, show lower brain density and empathy, emotional and cognitive control.
How To Stop Multi-Tasking
Here are some tips to stop multi-tasking:
- Set goals and don’t deviate from them.
- Set a routine and don’t let others distract you from it.
- Control the time you spend reading and answering email. The act of answering email will push you to attempt multi-tasking if you cannot control it.
- Meditation: The same research that shows that multi-tasking is damaging to your brain also shows that meditation boost the same brain functions and will assist in keeping you focused rather than distracted. Meditation also reduces stress which can be damaging to the brain as previously mentioned.
- When listening to others in the workplace, give them your undivided attention. Do not check email or read online memos when you are listening to others. Practice active listening.
- In order to focus, learn to take a break when you need it. Because we have been so inundated with the belief in multi-tasking and most of us have made multi-tasking a habit, we fall headlong into it when we lose focus. So it’s better to take a break and regain focus than fall into the trap and habit of multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking is not all it is cracked up to be. Current research is showing that even though multi-tasking has become a habit for all of us and a way of life in business, it is not really productive and it is not even healthy. The studies show that the human brain does not handle it well.
Therefore, complete one task at a time and you ought to see vast improvements and better results.
If you manage to read through each and every single word of this article without being distracted at all, congratulations! Your first step towards optimal focus and concentration begins right here!