In todays world, doing just one thing may sound outright luxurious, you may be even looked down upon if you promote yourself being a Unitasker.
Throwing in your clothes in the washing machine and staring it while talking to your friend on the phone will probably work out fine however losing half a second in picking up that phone call while driving on a freeway may cost a life or even two.
At work, you are preparing your monthly report that supposed to go to your super boss. and hence needs to 100% error proof. You are doing this while while you are a conference call, refreshing your email to check missing if the missing data for your report has reached your inbox and at the same you are texting directions to your friend whom you are meeting over lunch.Does that describe you? If yes, you may probably get an adrenaline rush with the thought that you are really great a multitasking. Well after reading this you may have to rethink about your strategy.
You may end up losing 40% of your productivity, the only exception being when you are coupling a mentally intensive activity with a routine one. Like reading a newspaper while brushing your teeth or solving a math problem while taking up stairs.
Why is Multitasking not good for you?
Our brain is not wired to do multiple things at the same time. What we call multitasking is actually task-switching which takes a lot of energy and leaves you feeling tired. Your short term memory may suffer. Even between two simple seeming tasks like watching television and reading a book, you are going to miss out on important details of one or both. We are not really bothered about this as this does not have any undesirable consequences. Worst is interrupting one task to suddenly focus on another one is enough to disrupt your short term memory.
How can be break this cycle and form new habits?
- At work, protect your brain from mental drainage by establishing and email checking schedule. Maybe three specific timings in a day.
- Turn off your smartphone or texting notifications and choose specific time to check your phone.
- OHIO- No I am not talking about the State Ohio.. this OHIO is “Only handle it once”. It basically means once you take something on don’t stop until you have finished it. With multitasking handling a task just once is next to impossible. If you stick to this principle, you need to be disciplined and plan out your day so that when a distraction arises or when a brilliant idea occurs you know you have a time allotted to handle it.