If I were to ask you (before giving you an already big clue in the title) how good is multitasking in increasing your productivity, you would probably tell me that it is really important because it keeps you busy at all times. Actually, the general opinion is that multitasking may have a negative impact on how you deal with your work. Do you want to know why? Then take a look below.
What is multitasking exactly?
According to HuffingtonPost, the word didn’t even exist until 1965. It used to be that each person had one job and done it until completion and it worked for them. So what happened? While it is known today as pretty much a positive thing, multitasking has us picking up our phone during our family dinners or interrupting our reading in order to watch a bit of TV.
Basically, to multitask is to do more than one thing at a time. In a utopic world, this would lead to a lot of work done in as little time as possible. But since we can’t possibly exist in such a world, here’s how multitasking doesn’t work.
Does it affect our productivity?
When you try to do more things at the same time, you will eventually slip up. This means that you will end up forgetting details or making more mistakes than you would otherwise do while working on one task at a time.
The people at Forbes state that multitasking works for about 150 million people. It’s a huge number, right? Not really when you think about it and realize that we are currently 7.6 BILLION (that’s right, with a ‘B’) living on this planet. To sum it up, only 2% of the world’s population is capable of multitasking.
What about the rest of us?
Apparently, the majority of us (98%, to be exact) can’t handle such an operation. We would simply put a pause on one task as we resume another. For example, you will not finish your email because you’ve got a conference call coming.
That in itself is a problem because you will lose focus on all that shifting between different tasks. Let’s put it this way: if a runner will have to stop in the middle of a race, throw a javelin and then resume his or her race, how would it go? The runner will not be able to focus properly on either and he or she will end up having bad results.
The American Psychological Association tells us that almost 40% of our potential productivity is lost while trying to perform multiple tasks at once.
Are we doomed? Is there no solution?
Mashable.com offers one solution and that would be to stop every possible source of distraction while you do your work. For example, if you are planning to write (and now I’m speaking to everyone, the author included), then you should turn off your phone, close the TV, break-up momentarily with your partner (kidding, of course) and just go at it.
Focusing on one step at a time is crucial both in climbing the Himalayas and in finishing up your paper. As you see, we all got it wrong; if we multitask we end up losing value.
To kill two birds with one stone is a saying that exists only because of the low probability of such a thing to happen. That ancient saying should be a lesson in itself as to how you have to focus on one thing before you start another. So, quit dandling about on the Internet because, yes, multitasking is a euphemism for procrastination. And such a word is definitely NSFW.