Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is a counterproductive approach to getting things done. It essentially means dividing up your attention and cognitive energy to multiple sub-tasks, which has proven to not be as effective as many time management gurus would have you believe. First of all, it is impossible to simultaneously deal with two tasks, because your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. When you switch from one task to another, it interrupts any creative, cognitive, and mental processes, forcing you to backtrack and regroup when you try to pick up your previous train of thought. The result? A lot of time wasted, and poor results on most of the projects – if you get any results at all. Here’s why multi-tasking can slow you down:
Multi-tasking is poor time management
Instead of focusing your energy on a single task, having to quickly switch between different tasks ultimately doesn’t let you be as productive as you would be if you were only working on one thing. Think of the time you waste trying to get up to speed and resume a project you left 20 minutes ago, only to switch to a third task because it has become a priority for the day.
Multi-tasking distracts you from completing any project efficiently
Multitasking achieves only one thing: putting a lot of projects and tasks on your to-do list. Unfortunately, you are generally left with many projects on the line and none of them completed. When you focus on a single task, you’re more productive. As a result, you complete the task much faster.
Multitasking is stressful
Multitasking leads to anxiety-packed workdays. We think that taking care of many tasks at the same time will help us complete them faster, but the truth is that we only add stress to our lives. Just thinking about the long list and becoming disconcerted by the mere volume and effort these projects call for can stress you out before you even begin.
Feeling anxious, distressed, and unproductive are only a few side effects of multi-tasking. Many people experience intense psychosomatic side effects because of it, leading to long-term health problems.
You’re not mindful of the process — you don’t process at all!
Picture yourself gulping down your dinner while you’re watching TV and also talking to your partner about how their day has gone. You’re not savoring the aromas, textures, and tastes of your meal, you’re robotically going through multiple processes. You might not even be able to describe what you ate, afterwards.
Multi-tasking prevents us from being mindful of our present state of being and of the true demands and nature of a given task. Eating is a pleasurable experience, as is communicating with your partner and watching your favorite TV show. Respect yourself enough to devote your undivided attention to every one of them, one at a time.
You have no energy or memory left to be creative and innovative
Multi-tasking is an energy-depleting practice. It will eventually drain all your creativity and innovative thinking because you’ve got little working memory left to actually devote to these cognitively heavy processes.
You’ll lose out on your chance to experience and savor life
We miss out on a lot of everyday joy and pleasure when we’re multi-tasking. Looking at your tablet screen while your kids play around in the park, having friends over only to preoccupy yourself with an important business call – all of these steal precious, unique times you’re not getting back.
Glorifying being busy is ultimately self-destructive
We believe that busy-ness equals success. What busy-ness really means sometimes is nothing more than “I have no time for myself” instead of “I have accomplished something.”
Stop multi-tasking and start focusing on one important thing at a time. You’ll find that you have much more time in the end to enjoy the world around you, and you’ll find that your focused attention and lowered stress levels make you more productive in the end.
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