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Strategic Thinking

4 Reasons Why Multitasking Is Hurting, Not Helping You

4 Reasons Why Multitasking Is Hurting, Not Helping You

4 Reasons Why Multitasking Is Hurting, Not Helping You

We all know the drill – you make your cup of coffee while answering work emails. You keep an eye on your casserole while reading all about the latest web trends. You may believe that doing multiple things at once makes you a productivity powerhouse. It's what women are supposed to do, right? Not so fast. On the contrary, you may be doing yourself more damage than good. Keep reading to learn more...

Multitasking can weaken your memory

A study conducted in 2016 discovered that chronic online multitaskers (those constantly switching between different media mediums) tend to develop weaknesses in both working memory – the ability to remember relevant information while working on the task – and long-term memory – your ability to recall information after a while.   So if you have been feeling scatterbrained and forgetful lately, it’s not just additional vitamins that you may need. You may need to quit the habit of constant screen switching.

Multitasking often leads to decreased focus

We often try to multitask as we believe that this will save us time and help us accomplish more. The reality? Engaging in a “balancing act” means that you will not do either of the things well. Our brain isn't wired to perform more than one action thoroughly, especially when both actions involve using the same parts of the organ.

That's exactly why you can't properly finish an email while being on the phone – your brain struggles with dedicating enough resources to each of these actions and eventually fails to do a decent job.Your brain switches rapidly between the two actions, so that you don’t stay focused on either of them for long enough. And such behavior breeds further behavioral distractibility.

Researchers have proved that by constantly being challenged with multiple chores, our brain loses its ability to distinguish between important things and unimportant distractions. Over time, multitasking just contributes to your inability to stay focused on a single task for too long. This then worsens your creative skills as your brain cannot stay concentrated long enough on one thing to come up with some decent ideas.

Multitasking makes you more stressed.

Oftentimes we multitask as we have a lot on our plate. And we need to get all of the tasks done fast! But our brain, when presented with unreasonable demands, starts pumping out adrenaline and other stress hormones. Putting you further on the edge, instead of contributing to productivity.  

Even when you are bombarded with a lot of information at once and need to respond to all of it fast (like that pile of emails and unread Instagram DMs), your brain turns on its “stress mode”. Also, some avid media multitaskers tend to report higher levels of social anxiety and even depression as one study suggests.

So do you really need more of that your life? Of course not! Practice being more restrictive with the number of tasks you are dealing with at once.

Multitasking makes you less efficient overall.

Only 2.5% of people in the world are capable of multitasking effectively. The rest are wired to be "mono-taskers". Countless scientific tests have proved that we are just tricking ourselves when we multitask – and believe that we are getting more things done when in reality it's just not true. Because here’s what actually happens: switching between tasks requires additional resources from your brain and you start feeling more tired over time. And this has something to do with attention residue.

Our brain cannot immediately forget what we did before and start working on the next task. Instead, it keeps musing over task A in the background while doing task B. And when you add tasks C & D – both receive fewer “resources” and your performance drops. Compare this to having 15+ tabs open in your web browser.

At some point, it just starts operating too slowly or shuts down altogether. And so does your brain when it's forced to deal with a full alphabet of unfinished chores.

So whatever you are trying to accomplish, don't try to switch gears too often. Instead, practice staying focused and mindful of a single task you need to complete, before moving on to cross more things off your to-do list! You got this!

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