September 24

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Why You Should Stop Multitasking Immediately

If you want to improve your life and save time, here’s a tip for you: stop multitasking.

I know we’ve been told that multitasking is great and it makes you more productive because you can juggle different tasks at the same time.

To some extent that may be true. For instance, you don’t need to choose between going for a walk and talking to a person because the walking is routine. That’s why you can focus your attention on talking to the person that is with you either in real life or on the phone.

However, when it comes to more complex tasks, nothing could be further from the truth. For instance, according to one study, only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively.

What are the disadvantages of multitasking? 

Here are some disadvantages that research found:

Disadvantages
  • Productivity loss: according to studies, multitasking reduces people’s productivity (by up to 40 percent).
  • Temporarily lower IQ: a study by the University of London found that multitasking temporarily lowered the IQ of men by 10 points (women were hardly affected).
  • Negative mental health impacts: according to a study, multitasking increases depression and social anxiety.
  • Worse memory: a study found that chronic media multitasking reduces both working memory and long-term memory,
  • Increased stress: according to a study, multitasking is associated with higher stress in college students.


Why does multitasking make you less productive?

You’re not actually multitasking, you’re quickly switching from one task to the other. And every time you switch your attention, it takes you some precious time to reorient to the new task.

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Cooking for instance is a very different skill than writing or recording a video.

The reason the whole concept of multitasking came up in the first place is because of computers. 

Seeing how computers can run different operations at the same time, people thought: “well that’s super-efficient — we can do the same.”

Spoiler alert: no we can’t. (In fact, even your computer can’t multitask, it’s just good at giving off the impression it can.)


How can you stop multitasking?

During your next workday see if you can focus on one thing at a time, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Here are some things that can help:

  • Use a timer and set it for 20–25 minutes as the deadline can help you keep on track.
  • Finish one thing before starting another. If you can’t finish a task (for instance, because you are waiting to hear back from someone else), consciously put that task aside before beginning the new task.
  • If possible, turn off email and other notification.
  • If possible, turn off your phone and place it somewhere where you can’t see it.
  • Reduce other external distractions during work hours, for instance, by closing the door.

Sometimes it can help to have office hours because then hopefully people will disturb you less during other times of the day.

So that’s my time-saving tip for you: stop multitasking and start singletasking. 

I shared about the disadvantages of multitasking above, now the ball is in your court! 

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