By Anubhav Srivastava ( Register for his Workshop – Build Super Confidence For Super Success!)
In today’s world, doing just one thing at one time seems to be considered a waste of time. Whether it is texting while walking or constantly checking your phone while in a meeting, most people consider it a given that by doing more than one thing at a time, you are increasing your productivity and making a better use of your time.
The problem is that the idea that multitasking increases productivity is a flawed one. Sure, some people are better at it than others, but for the vast majority of people, multitasking actually lead to lower productivity. The reason is that even though people think that doing two or more things at the same time saves time, multitasking actually leads to both the tasks taking a longer time because you do not give enough focus to either of them.
Here are three reasons to stop Multitasking
1) It is inefficient.
What we think of as multitasking is not really multitasking, it is quickly switching from one task to a totally different task in a short amount of time (sometimes less than a second), then moving on to a third task or going back to the first task again in a very short time.
Research has shown that the more you switch tasks, the more energy is used up by the brain. Furthermore, every time you switch to a different task and then go back to the original task, it takes longer to come back to the first task with complete focus. So even if you think you are saving time, in reality you are not giving your complete attention to any of the tasks and your efficiency levels go down, even though you maybe patting yourself on the back for being a great multi-tasker.
2) It can be dangerous
In certain situations, multitasking is dangerous. How many times have we heard of people who were texting while driving and that led to their accidents. Even speaking on the phone while driving has the potential to distract you enough to cause a mishap.
Even in less dangerous situations, people who tend to multitask often tend to make a lot of mistakes in their work. If you are ironing the clothes and boiling the milk at the same time, there is a good choice that the lack of complete attention to either of the activity will lead to either the clothes being burnt or the milk being spilled when it starts boiling or both!
In fact, this quite logical. Because when you do many things at one time, your lack of attention will lead to there being more mistakes. Stanford University did a research where they concluded that multi-taskers are often unable to filter out irrelevant information.
There is a good chance if you are messaging or talking to two different people at the same time, you may say one thing that you meant for the first person to the other person and vice versa. You might even say the “I love you”, you meant for your wife, to your boss!
3) Multitasking negatively impacts health
According to a research done by The University of California, San Francisco, multitasking can negatively impact your short term memory. The more you get older, the worse it impacts your memory and the mistakes you make multiply.
Multi-tasking also leads to more anxiety. People who are forced to switch their attention constantly between tasks become stressed out much more often because of the energy drain it has on the brain, and also because they realize they can make mistakes which stresses them out further. This chronic stress can lead to long term mental health issues.
But the negative impacts of multi-tasking are not just limited to mental health. They also lead to physical side effects. The chronic stress as a result of multitasking leads to your brain releasing a chemical called cortisol which over period of time makes people more prone to high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes and cardio vascular diseases.
In a study done by University of California Irvine, employees at an organization were separated into two groups. The first group was given access to emailing and messaging tools while still at work. The other group was not. The group that had the access received a lot of professional and personal messages and every time they received it, they stopped to answer them. They became less focused and less efficient and more stressed out. On the other hand, the people who did not have access to these messages, stayed focused on the task at hand and remained relatively stress free even while they were the ones doing more work.
But the worst part is that the first group that was less productive displayed a higher blood pressure and higher heart rate compared to the group that was actually working more!
So what is the solution?
The solution is obvious. As far as possible, focus on only one thing at one time. Now, obviously there are a few activities that you can combine as long as you don’t need to devote excessive attention to one of the activities. For example you can listen to the radio while driving the car, you can listen to music at the gym or you can speak on the phone whilst walking. But when it comes to two distinct activities, both of which require your complete attention, it is best to focus only on one activity at one time.
Here is a technique you can use which will make you much more productive. Pick a particular task and set a goal to work on it for either two hours or till the time you get the task done. Do not pick longer tasks as you need breaks as well. During that time do not do anything else, no matter what (unless it is incredibly urgent of course) Do not answer emails, do not take phone calls, do not check social media or answer anyone’s messages. Your productivity will go through the roof and you will notice that during that time, you manage to do much more as compared to what you were able to do earlier.
After those two hours are over, take a short break to either relax or check social media or any relaxing activities. You can also answer personal phone calls during that time.
However when it comes to professional phone calls or emails it will again be a good idea to set aside a block of time and make those calls or respond to those emails only during that block.
After that 20 minute break, set another two hour (or shorter) block and go at it with focus without the distractions. At the end of the day you will realized that you have accomplished more in one day as compared to what you were able to accomplish in even a week! This is the secret of hyper-productive individuals. Go try it!
About the Author
The author of this article, Anubhav Srivastava is an author, motivational speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields, who teach the viewers how they too can make all of their dreams come true. The movie itself has been seen on Youtube by close to 700,000 people. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
Email Anubhav Srivastava for coaching, consulting or motivational speaking queries at email@example.com. Facebook Profile: http://facebook.com/anubhav981
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