Are You Really Multitasking?
Are you busy these days trying to get a lot done with your life and your business?
Do you pride yourself in being a great multi-tasker?
Well you may be surprised to learn that multitasking is really a myth.
On no you say, I am really great at getting multiple things done all at once. I am a great multitasker.
Are you overwhelmed with work and feel like you can’t anything done?
Are you exhausted at the end of the day although you felt like you got nothing done?
Well, if you are, it could be because your not as good at multitasking as you think.
Maybe your not multitasking at all.
I recently read an article on Medium entitled, Multitasking is Killing Your Brain, by Larry Kim. And, it really got me to thinking, are we really doing this to ourselves? I mean, killing our brains trying to multitask?
So of course, I had to go out and research this and see what others were saying.
Everyone is so busy these days trying to get things done. We pride ourselves on being great multitaskers and we wear that word like a badge of honor, as if it’s greater to be busy with everything, than great at one thing.
What if it was just a myth, that multitasking doesn’t really exist? Well I am going to shed some light on this in this article. Maybe after you read this, you will agree.
The Orgin of Multitasking
The word multitasking, first appeared in a 1965 report by IBM talking about the capabilites if it’s latest computer. (IBM Operating System/360 Concepts and Facilities by Witt and Ward. IBM Systems Reference Library. File Number: S360-36)
I had to look this up, as it seems that people have been multitasking for years.
That’s correct, it wasn’t until the 60’s that anyone could even claim to be good at multitasking.
In Larry Kim’s article, he says our “brains weren’t meant to multitask.” He goes on to say that our brains are really good at focusing in on one task at a time, and throwing massive information at them all at once, just slows them down.
Where Is The Focus When Multitasking?
When you multitask, you think you are doing multiple things at once, but there’s the problem, this is impossible. Maybe you can try to do multiple things at once, but you can’t focus on multiple things at once.
For example, take texting and driving. This is a really dangerous thing to do, and is the cause of a lot of driving accidents. Nevermind that it is against the law in most states, when you are driving and you start to text, you are changing your focus from driving to texting. So you really don’t know whats happening around you with your driving as you are focused on the texting and not the driving.
What you are doing when you say your multitasking, most times, you are just switching from one task to the other, but very quickly. As you do this, you loose focus on the first task, and it takes time to focus on the second. So while you think you are getting more work done faster, you are really just getting less quality work done slower.
Don’t take my word for it. There is this other article that I read, from Psychology Today, that has a good example on how trying to focus on many tasks at once, really just causes you to do lower quality work at a slower pace.
The article’s name is The Myth of Multitasking by Nancy K. Napier Ph.D. Check it out, I think you will be amazed by it. I know I was.
In her article, Napier talks about how multitasking can “sap your energy” over time. She says that every time we switch tasks, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain. She says this start/stop time is rough on us. Rather than saving time, it cost us time, is less efficient, and we make more mistakes.
Napier also offer us a small test you can do to prove this point. I suggest you try it, as it can be eye opening.
There was another article I read called, 4 Myths About Multitasking, It debunks 4 popular myths about multitasking, but the one I like was that, multitasking makes you efficient.
It says that strict multitasking requires engaging in two tasks at the same time, but that’s only possible if (a.) at least one of the tasks is so well learned that it is automatic—like walking or eating, and (b.) the two activities involve different types of brain processing. For example, audio and visual, like driving and listening to the radio.
This artcile goes on to say that when you say your multitasking, you are really just switching from one task to another in quick succession. The transition from one to the other is not faster, smoother, or efficient. The brain has to pivot and briefly orientate itself between tasks. This takes about 40 percent more time than it would take to complete each task, one at a time.
[clickToTweet tweet=”our brains weren’t meant to multitask but they are good at switching rapidly to the next task” quote=”our brains weren’t meant to multitask but they are good at switching rapidly to the next task”]
Multitasking and Your Health
Accourding to Larry Kim, multitasking has been found to increase cortisol, the stress hormone. Having your brain constantly switch gears pumps up stress and tires us out, leaving us feeling mentally exhausted, even when the work day has barely begun.
Does this ever happen to you in your daily routine? I know it does to me, and I had no idea why. But this all makes sense to me now.
For years I worked 60+ hours a week at a job, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to keep up. I thought I was multitasking, having to do several different jobs in a day. But I never felt as if I was getting everything done. I was always mentally drained at the end of the day. I just thought this was because I was overworked, but now I am beginning to think that it was due to me trying to take on to many tasks at one time, instead of just completing each task and moving on to the next.
Final Thoughts About Multitasking
Here’s the take-away. Trying to do too many tasks at one time, just to look like you are busy and efficient, can result in taking longer to do the tasks and then not perfoming them as best as you could. Focus on one task at a time and do it the best you can. Quality instead onf quantity, I guess is the right phrase to use.
You could make a checklist and then prioritize it with the most important on top and least on the bottom. Check off each task as you finish them. You get the idea right?
Do you do better completing one task at a time, rather than several at a time? I know I do. What methods do you use to get things done?
Let me know what works for you.
I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and experiences in the comments section below.
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