Today’s world seems to endorse multitaskers. When applying for a job, we often see that the ideal applicant must be “skilled at multitasking.” We may think this is a positive quality to attain, but is multitasking really healthy for the mind?
TRUTHS ABOUT MULTITASKING
You’re not really multitasking. If we must be literal, multitasking actually means performing two or more tasks simultaneously. For instance, how often do you see someone cooking dinner and dribbling a basketball? Not that often! But when think we’re multitasking, sometimes what we’re really doing is switching back and forth from task to task. It can also mean performing several tasks in rapid succession. Most of the time, multitasking is not productive and hinders your work progress.
It slows you down.Multitasking may seem like a quick way to get things done, but contrary to popular belief, it slows down the production progress. Doing many things at once causes a 40% decrease in productivity! Our brains function best when we focus on one task at a time, mainly because each activity we do requires a specific energy and thought process. So, switching back and forth between different activities confuses the mental process. Our attention spans are much longer when working in a linear fashion rather than bouncing around from one project to another, trying to accomplish everything at one time.
It causes more stress. While some may believe tackling many projects at once relieves stress, multitasking causes more stress. Recent studies have shown that being in an environment with multiple things happening at once (for instance, being in an office with repetitive emails, phone calls, and customer requests), causes a higher heart rate, and therefore, anxiety. Our brains are not at their best when stressors swim all around us. It becomes hard to think and focus when the mind is under stress. Monotasking is key because the brain is more relaxed when working on one task at a time and it is more focused and effective in getting the job done faster, especially when you’re in an environment with little stimuli.
It’s bad for your memory.Even when performing simple tasks such as reading while watching television or studying while listening to music, there is so much vital detail to pick up on. Our short-term memory becomes strained when suddenly switching back and forth from these activities and will likely not retain those details. So, do your short-term memory a favor by doing one thing at a time and see how much stronger it becomes!
You make more mistakes.With the 40% loss in productivity that comes with multitasking, also comes room to make more mistakes, especially in activities that require much critical thinking. Again, focus comes into the picture. While working on two or more tasks, it’s possible that a spill-over effect may happen. You don’t want your pattern of thinking for a computer research paper to influence an English paper about Shakespearean poetry!
WHY MONOTASKING IS IDEAL
Quality work.Working on one task at a time puts your mental focus in high gear. The mind and body get prepared to perform the task with no expectations to suddenly shift to a foreign one, thereby disrupting the workflow. Strong concentration leads to a strong willpower to get the job done and do it well. Because the mind is focused on one task, you will naturally put more thought into your work, and it will show!
A more relaxed mind.Working on multiple things at once induces mental and physical stress. There’s so much expectation and pressure to accomplish so many projects in such little time. But remember quality work happens when our minds and bodies are relaxed.
Greater efficiency. We may not be able to multitask in a swift manner, but if we put our focus and energy into that one task that needs to be done right away, the job gets done well and succinctly. Once one task is accomplished, you may feel more motivated to tackle the next task and the one after that. Productivity can be a confidence booster!
You can free yourself from multitasking. Remember: it causes less productivity and produces more stress and distractions. You will see more success, focus, and relaxation by working on one task at a time.