Warning: Multitasking Is Killing Your Productivity

Take a moment and think about everything that you are doing right now. In addition to reading this article, the chances are good that you are also doing several other things. You might also be watching TV, checking your email, or talking on your phone. If you are like most people, you think that you can save time by doing multiple things at once.

You are probably thinking, “I am pretty good at multitasking, and that it actually helps me to get more done.” If so, you may be what researchers refer to as a “heavy multitasker.”

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you are wrong.

You’ve been led to believe that the key to getting things done is to become a master of multitasking. When in fact, just the opposite is true.

Before I explain the myths of multitasking, do yourself a favor and turn off all of your digital devices so that you can learn about the illusion of multitasking and what you can do about it.

The Multitasking Illusion

In the past, most people believed that multitasking was a good way to increase productivity. After all, if you’re working on several different tasks at once, you’re bound to accomplish more, right?

While most of us think that multitasking is performing two or more tasks simultaneously. Multitasking is really task-switching, or moving back and forth between two or more tasks.  This actually reduces productivity, because most of your attention is expended on the act of switching tasks, and you never really focus on either task.

“Most of the time multitasking is an illusion. You think you are multitasking but in reality, you’re actually wasting time switching from one task to another.” – Bosco Tjan

Unfortunately, multitasking does not save you time. In fact, research shows that it will take you longer to complete two tasks when multitasking than it would complete each one separately. Experts estimate that multitasking can actually lead to a 40 percent reduction in your productivity.

Multitasking Is Killing Your Productivity

Not only has research shown that multitasking reduces your productivity, it has also been shown to be harmful to your health. Here are the results of just a few of the many research studies related to multitasking:

  • Studies have also found that multitasking has a negative physical effect by promoting the release of stress hormones and adrenaline.

  • Multitasking is that it is linked to short-term memory loss,  and can change your ability to concentrate and increase gaps in your attentiveness.

  • Researchers found that people who multitask while eating don’t mentally process what they have eaten causing them to eat larger meals more often leading to weight gain.

The Multitasking Solution

Now that you understand the negative impacts of multitasking, what can you do about it?

The primary skill that you need to develop to overcome multitasking is FOCUS. Focus on one task at a time. This means doing something, and thinking about what you’re doing at the same time. This means focusing on one task until it is completed or you are at a stopping point.

Three Ways To Improve Your Focus

1. Have A System – Keep all of your projects, next actions, and appointments in one place so that you can keep track of everything in your personal and professional life and keep things from falling through the cracks.

2. Plan Your Day – Plan your day the night before and be specific about what you want to accomplish.  Focus on your top three next actions, and knock them out early in the day before you get distracted by the other “stuff.”

3. Schedule Your Email – Email is the number one distraction for most people. Turn off your email notifications, and schedule specific times during the day too check and respond to your email.

4. Control Social Media – When you are tempted to check your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ ask yourself,  “Is this the best use of my time right now?”  If it is, great! If not, resist the temptation and move on to your next important task.

The next time you find yourself multitasking when you are trying to be productive, take a quick assessment of what you are trying to accomplish. Eliminate the distractions and focus on the most important task at that time.  This will make you happier, healthier and more productive.

Question: How can you minimize multitasking and increase your productivity? Comment below.


photo credit: ryantron. via photopin cc

Steve Spring

Steve is the founder of Live Your Life On Purpose, where his goal is to help others transform their health, minds, and relationships. A former management consultant and executive coach, Steve is also a Christ-follower, husband, dad, and entrepreneur who loves his family, friends and helping others live their life on purpose.

  • David Mike says:

    I know for a fact that I can’t multitask. Nothing gets done right.

  • mitcoivanov says:

    Seems like it’s in human nature to be inclined to do multitasking or maybe no? I’m curious to read if there’s some analysis looking for an answer if this retarded way of acting appeared in last century.

    • sespring says:

      I am not sure, but I have noticed that everywhere I go people are texting, having conversations, watching TV, and eating all at the same time. I don’t remember things being this way when I was growing up. Maybe it was the introduction of the smartphone.

      • mitcoivanov says:

        To get to the old way already cost efforts. The question already is “How much concentration does it cost to do things done one by one?” .. sad.

  • >