One of the most common myths about working: multitasking will help you get more done, and faster. While technology can help us do more at once, you might want to think twice before trying to cross off multiple tasks at once. And, believe it or not, multitasking isn’t a special skill that some have and others do not. Research now shows that multitasking isn’t just inefficient, it’s also bad for your brain too.
Chef’s Special – Multitasking?
One NPR article takes a look at the life of a chef who has to keep multiple orders and tasks going at once. While it is possible to acclimate yourself to a type of high pressure multitasking system, it can crush you if you’re not able to handle the capacity. The chef of the restaurant even admits that very few people can keep up, saying that “it’s like an insane asylum.” The solution: staying calm and breaking each item into a small, individual task. While it’s true that our brains have evolved to handle more, we’re simply not as effective when we try to do tons of things at the same time.
Your Brain on Multitasking
Have you ever tried writing an email and talking on the phone at the same time? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Both of those tasks require a different communication function, and your brain can’t do it because it’s in conflict. Frequent multitaskers perform worse because their attention is constantly divided. Jumping from task to task puts your brain in a scramble mode, and instead of speeding you up, it will make your brain sluggish and less efficient.
Doing More Makes You Dumber?
Multitasking won’t just slow you down, it also lowers your IQ. You’d be surprised to learn that multitasking can sometimes lower your IQ 15 points! Other studies show that when you use multiple devices to multitask, it can decrease your brain density in the areas that control empathy and cognitive and emotional control.! Your emotional intelligence can also take a hit. Checking your phone or tablet during a meeting can display low self and social awareness. Highly successful people have high emotional intelligence, and workers who have a low emotional intelligence are often alienated from their coworkers.
Don’t Kid Yourself, Take One Thing at A Time
Don’t multitask if you can help it. Researchers say that you can trick your brain into thinking it can multitask and do it well. But more studies show that the risks are greater if you try and do too much at once. There might be times where it’s necessary to get some things done, but frequent multitasking can have bad consequences on both your short-term and long-term productivity and brain function. Compared to multitasking, tackling one task at a time does much more than increase your performance. Crossing one thing off at a time improves your work ethic and morale. Part of taking care of yourself at work means knowing your limits, and all of us have limits when it comes to multitasking. Take care of yourself by pacing your work load and knocking out one thing at a time.