The Myth of Multitasking

  • Published: Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021

Have you ever been paying a bill online, while trying to get dinner ready, while letting the dog out, all while asking your family about their day. Societal norms have told us multitasking makes us more efficient and allows us to get more done all at once. However, the opposite is true we get less done; become more stressed; and tired. Researchers suggest that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as much as 40%.

Psychologists who study what happens to mental processes when people try to perform more than one task at a time have found that the mind and brain were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking. We are wired to be mono-taskers. A study found that only 2.5% of people are able to multitask effectively.

While multitasking is a very common practice, research on brain development and concentration shows that splitting our attention between more than one task can actually make us less productive, less efficient and can contribute to us making more mistakes. What may feel like multitasking, such as writing an email while listening to webinar is really your brain switching rapidly back and forth between the two tasks. So, in reality we are actually paying less attention to both tasks.

Here are some best practices to help decrease multitasking throughout the day:

  • Reduce or eliminate distractions
  • List out daily priorities
  • Prioritize the most challenging tasks
  • Schedule multiple breaks to refocus
  • Be prepared to say no
  • Be mindful

Multitasking has become part of many daily routines so remember to take a quick assessment of various things you are trying to accomplish the next time you find yourself multitasking.

Writer: Amber Allen