Multitasking isn’t what it seems. If you’ve ever been to a job interview, you’ve probably been asked about your multitasking skills. Although I knew then I wasn’t a multi-tasker, I’d obviously given them the answer I thought they wanted to hear. Yes. I am GREAT at multi-tasking. But the truth is: we’re all horrible at multitasking. We just vary on different levels of terrible. Yes, even as a woman. Apparently, you’re even worse at multitasking if you think you’re super at it.
There’s even academic research to back it up. Some researchers at Stanford University found that if you did two things at the same time, you’d spend an extra 50% longer than if you did them consecutively. There’s even some evidence that suggests that you’ll go on to make twice as many errors juggling two or more things at once (Peter Lapis in acuity magazine: August 2014, Vol. 1, Issue 2: Pages 34-35).
If it’s so bad for us, then why do we do it? Why not just do things one at a time? The answer– like cheating– is the dopamine effect. The feel-good drug that makes not-so-great-behaviors become addictive. It’s not only mentally taxing, but it’s energy-sapping and stressful. You can bet that dopamine isn’t the only hormone being created every time you multitask.
Keep it simple, stupid. It’s really all about doing (and focusing) on one thing at a time. It means stop distracting yourself, and you’ll achieve greater things. Have you ever heard of anyone reading a book and playing a video game all at once and getting a high score and understanding the whole plot at the same time? Probably not. It’s okay to take breaks when you feel like you’re getting nowhere. This is helpful. But trying to divide your attention between things you shouldn’t be doing simultaneously isn’t. Try it. Maybe you’ll finally finish that blog post you were supposed to be working on.
So there’s the argument for why multitasking cripples productivity. What are your thoughts on multitasking?