“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.” – Lord Chesterfield
Multitasking is an attempt to do several tasks at once for the sake of time. One of the biggest myths about productivity is that you will get more done if you multitask.
Multitasking was actually developed for computers, not humans. The task juggling of several actions became hugely popular in the 1990’s. But studies revealed that the human mind is not capable of juggling too many things at once.
Even everyday activities, like a trip to the grocery store, can turn into a marathon event. You are picking up dinner, texting, setting appointments, watching the kids, transferring money to different accounts on an app, and making sure you use all of your coupons. That just sounded crazy, right? Yet that’s just one example of how multitasking works.
The Ugly Truth About Multitasking
A 2010 Harvard Business Review post states multitasking can lead to as much as a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ. Multitasking at the most dangerous level is texting or talking on the phone while driving. Eighteen percent of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
The truth is when you try to manage several things at once you get nothing done efficiently, safely or properly.
You can get multiple things done during the day without trying to do them all at once. The biggest challenge is staying in charge of your thoughts, rather than letting them be in charge of you. When you try to do too many things at once your mind just switches from one task to the other. Multitasking can leave you standing in the middle of the room wondering what you got up for in the first place. Prioritizing the most important tasks that are going to make the biggest impact is the key.
Start Prioritizing Instead.
Block off time to work on a specific task. Get as much done as possible at one time on your project. This is where setting small goals to bigger projects really becomes effective.
Do you have ideas that come up when you are working on something? A trick to help you focus while working is to write it down while you are working on the task at hand. Look at your list when you are finished with what you were originally doing. Many times the distracting thought you had wasn’t important.
Multitasking and other distractions can be habits that block you from getting a task done. Prioritize your tasks, be in charge of your thoughts and stop multitasking.