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  • May 09, 2023 4 min read

    Here’s the truth: multitasking has been normalized so much that it’s something we feel the need to be able to do. The thing is, we already know that it’s counterproductive. Instead of allowing us to get more done, it actually does the opposite—messes up our productivity and efficiency even more. Whether you’re the one who needs convincing that you should stop multitasking right now or someone you know, in this blog post, we’ll talk about two things: how doing this isn’t helpful in the long run and what we can do to get our tasks done, one at a time.

     

    1. It’s a myth.

    It’s a myth. First and foremost, we want to focus on the fact and really believe that multitasking is nothing more than a myth. No matter what anyone says, scientifically speaking, it’s impossible: our brain just isn’t designed to focus on multiple tasks at the same time. When we think we are multitasking, what we’re actually doing instead is switching between tasks quickly. This constant switching around ends up being harmful because it decreases our productivity and increases the likelihood of us committing errors.

    Apart from all that, switching also interrupts our flow, which means we use up valuable time and mental energy trying to refocus our attention each time. This leads to what is called “attention residue”—our brain still holds onto the thoughts, feelings, or ideas from the task we were doing prior, the reason why it takes a while to focus on the new task again. Instead of saving time, what we actually do is lose more of it bit by bit. It may not mean much in short increments but not as a whole as days and weeks add up.

    This is why the best course of action is still to focus on just one task alone, from start to finish, completing it to the best of our abilities or within a given time constraint. This makes us more efficient and effective. Does this ensure we don’t make any mistakes at all? Of course not. However, we can minimize it.

     

    2. It can cause more stress.

    Whenever trying to complete tasks, especially if there are a lot, stress is inevitable. It’s normal and a healthy amount of it can even be helpful. However, multitasking adds unnecessary stress because our brain needs to work harder every time we switch from one task to another. As a result, we can feel overwhelmed because we end up with more distractions.

    We’re also unable to concentrate and our stress increases as we realize that, even though we’re juggling multiple things at once, we’re not quite getting anything done. So now we add a feeling of anxiousness: we’ll feel like we’re not making any progress and start stressing out over looming deadlines. It can snowball from there: we will also end up feeling dissatisfied because we think we’re not doing well.

    All this because we’re trying to bite more than we can chew at one time. In the end, we’re still not as productive as we’d like to be, nor are we efficient, so to avoid this, prioritization and not multitasking is key!

    Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable chunks not just to truly see and feel that you’re making progress but also to reduce stress and overwhelm.

     

    3. It affects the quality of your work.

    When our attention is divided, it leads to errors which have an impact on the quality of what we’re doing. The more tasks we take on and try to do all at once, then our attention gets divided even more. The risk of oversight and less attention to detail increases our chances of making mistakes. In the end, multitasking results in a waste of time redoing and fixing errors that could have been avoided.

    In general, focusing on one task at a time allows us to work more efficiently and produce higher-quality results. By minimizing distractions and prioritizing tasks, we can increase our focus and productivity, and create work that we can be proud of. 

     

    4. Prevention is better than cure.

    One good way to avoid multitasking is by actively looking for methods you can implement to shift your focus on doing just one task at a time. Consider methods like time blocking or the Pomodoro technique.

    For example: time blocking allows you to set aside specific time blocks across your day to finish specific tasks. The whole point of it is to dedicate that block on one task alone based on the timeframe you’ve decided. Since you’ve got your tasks scheduled, this reduces the temptation to move on to something else to multitask—because everything else already has its own time block. Learn more about how it can help you here!

    As for the Pomodoro Technique, it’s similar to time blocking because it also allows you to focus on just one thing. This is by working nonstop in short bursts, called pomodoros, with tiny breaks in between. In the original technique, every pomodoro is 25 minutes long with 5 to 10 minute-breaks in between. Ideally, it was four pomodoros before a longer break—20 or 30 minutes.

    However, as we’ve tried here, it helped to tweak it with a duration that suits us.

     

    No matter how tempting, multitasking isn’t the way to go!

    Even if it seems like an effective way to get things done, multitasking can do more harm than good. Focusing on tasks, one at a time, is still the best way to go! This ensures more quality work and less stress, meaning we can get more done!

    In what other ways have you proven multitasking is ineffective? What steps did you take to get your focus back? Share it with us in the comments below.

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