To multitask or not to multitask

To multitask or not to multitask

Without a doubt we feel a great satisfaction in getting things done. So much so, that we’ve got into the habit of trying to get several things done at once believing that by doing so, we’ll achieve more. This is a complete illusion. Multitasking is the enemy of effective productivity. Studies now demonstrate that our productivity goes down by as much as 40% when we multitask. And another study showed that being distracted by email and phone calls causes a 10 point fall in our IQ – that’s the same impact as losing a night’s sleep and twice the effect of smoking marijuana!

Not only does multitasking increase the probability of making mistakes, but if you are trying to do something whilst in conversation with someone, and thus not paying them your full attention, you could be on a slippery path to damaging your relationship with that person.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, we are not multi tasking, we are switch tasking; basically we are stopping doing one task to start another – all the time. Where is the sense in that?

What would happen if you stopped multi-tasking? What differences would you experience in your daily life? You would see these differences:

  • You would feel less stressed. Focusing on only one thing at a time makes you engaged, you become present and give all your energy to completing one thing at a time.
  • You would make more progress on tasks that require a lot of thinking and persistence. Giving your complete attention to the task at hand until it is completed or you have filled the time allotted to the task frees you to think deeply and creatively.
  • You would become laser focused on getting things done and lose patience with things that you believe are a waste of your time such as meetings that seem to have no purpose.
  • You would understand messages more clearly as you become tuned into nuance and what people are saying behind their words. This is influential in consolidating relationships.

NOTHING  is lost by not multitasking and there is much to gain – we give people our full attention and consequently they feel listened to and appreciated, we perform tasks with more accuracy, we complete tasks more quickly, as we are more focused and we are able to meet deadlines with less stress.

So what choice do you make?  Are you going to continue to multitask thinking you will get more done? Think again. I challenge you to completely focus on one task at a time for the next week – see what happens, then make your choice.

 

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