The Truth About Multi-Tasking

work

I’ll admit, I started to worry.  At work, I found myself frantically jumping from one task to another. It was taking me longer to complete my to-dos, I was making errors, and I found it difficult for me to focus on one task at a time…

…Turns out, I was experiencing “multi-tasking” in it’s truest form!

Multi-tasking refers to a person who deals with more than one task at the same time. But, our brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought. In reality, very few people (2%) can truly multi-task effectively.  According to NPR, what really happens is that we switch our attention from task to task extremely quickly. It’s actually very difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time.  “…you think you’re actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you’re actually not,”says Earl Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT. Let’s face it,  we’re just not naturally good at handling more than one thing at a time.

But, don’t beat yourself up you’re not a multi-tasking pro! Did you know that there are several disadvantages to this common attribute? “Multi-tasking leads to as much as 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ” (tipsywriter.com).  The truth about mulit-tasking is that it can often make us less productive, more prone to make mistakes, and more stressed. In addition, multi-tasking can have a negative effect on our memory!

If there are so many negatives associated with multi- tasking than why even do it? In all honesty, who doesn’t love the instant gratification that comes with completing several tasks? Plus, if this skill is almost often required of employees, then why not master it?  Well, now knowing the facts, you might want to think twice before you raise the bar high on yourself.

It’s never too late to break the habit! Start with something small. Write out a small list of tasks..say 5. Eliminate the potential for distractions, roll up those sleeves, and FOCUS! Do NOT move on to the next item on your list until you are completely finished with the first! You can do this!