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3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Try to Multitask

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There is a large misconception that multitasking positively affects our work. However, before jumping on board to complete several tasks at once, consider that avoiding doing so may improve your productivity.

Monster.com isn’t just a place to post resumes and look for jobs. It also provides sound advice when it comes to our careers. In 3 reasons you shouldn’t try to multitask, the ill-effects of multitasking are brought to light through the perspectives of several productivity experts including our very own Robby Slaughter, a principal of AccelaWork. Below we highlight some of the key components to this discussion.

multitasking

© Flickr user Wonderlane

Multitasking Makes You Less Productive

One of the most eye-opening statements in this post is that 40% of our productive time is lost when we shift from one project to the other before finishing any one entirely. Think about that? If the goal is to get more done in a day, how can multitasking be a viable solution with a statistic like that? As The Methodology Blog has advised readers in the past: multitasking is a myth and this myth is a serious problem.

Tamara Myels, a certified professional organizer and productivity consultant, advises the following:

When you are trying to listen to your voicemail while reading your email, or reading other materials during meetings, multitasking is working against you. Instead, identify the priorities, the tasks — the important things you need to work on — and work on them one at a time. Time management isn’t about doing more things; it’s about doing more of the important things.

Multitasking Makes You Less Effective

How many of us have attempted to talk on the phone and write an email at the same time? It’s fairly easy to do, but we all can certainly attest to the fact that, despite our best efforts, one line of communication is inevitably lost. Either we completely stop listening to the person on the phone, casually contributing “Mmms” and “Oh, yeah(s)?” to suggest otherwise, or type out fragmented sentences and misspell words that will inevitably need our full attention for editing after the phone call. No matter what, productivity is reduced because, once again, we operated under the assumption that getting two things done at once is best in terms of our productivity. According to Slaughter, this scenario is far from ideal:

Multitasking is the worst way to try and get lots of things done … It’s contrary to human psychology. We do best when we concentrate on one task at time. It’s also insulting to the work (and the person who assigned it), because it indicates that task doesn’t deserve our complete attention.

Multitasking Can Slow Down Your Brain

Nowadays, it’s become quite habit-forming to dive into numerous projects at the same time. Whether it’s at work or at home, we’ve become so accustomed to this behavior it has become second nature to us. The problem is that doing this is hurting our brains! Monster.com’s article highlights a study from Stanford University that says those of us who often multitask are less efficient in our work even on the occasions we choose to tackle one project at a time. So not only is multitasking hurting our productivity and effectiveness, it’s also diligently working against us in the long term! In this case, Slaughter relays some pointers as to how we can combat our habitual instincts to take on several projects at a time:

To fight the urge to multitask, redirect your focus. Try maximizing your computer windows to hide distractions, putting on headphones (even with no music, just to communicate to others to leave you alone), turning off email pop-ups and setting your phone to do-not disturb. And when you really need to focus, leave your desk and head for a conference room.

Increasing personal productivity is a fantastic goal and one we all should continually strive for. And while it’s easy to believe that multitasking will help in this area, we assure you it won’t. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t new ways to work that will aid in your efforts of gaining effective strategies in your job. It’s just a matter of understanding the right path versus the wrong one.

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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