John Pyron, the Business Doctor

John Pyron, the Business Doctor

5 Reasons to STOP Multitasking in Your Business

5 Reasons to STOP Multitasking in Your Business

Emails, social media, blogs, news and texting can have a devastating effect on productivity if they are mismanaged. According to several studies, an individual can handle several tasks simultaneously if the projects are simple and handled without thinking (walking and talking on the phone for example). This is does not apply to tasks that require a certain level of reflection and concentration. With multitasking, individuals shift from one task to another (task-switching).

The problem is that the brain needs time to adapt to the changing situation. Although it only takes a fraction of a second, the difference can be significant if it is done often. According to a study conducted at the University of Michigan, multitasking at work can translate to a 40 percent reduction in productivity.

People perform better when focusing on one task. A study from the University of California-Irvine found that it takes an average of 20 minutes to regain concentration after interrupting a task.

It is normal for people to find varying daily work activities desirable because it stimulates creativity. Interrupting a task to socialize with colleagues is definitely good for motivation and helps individuals feel content at work.

Some of the downsides of multitasking include:

1. Multitasking translates to more mistakes

Mistakes are a logical consequence of overloading the brain with tasks, which reduces focus and precision. Juggling multiple tasks forces the mind to divide attention between unrelated tasks. Doing so increases the likelihood of making mistakes. It has been shown that multitasking impairs the ability to filter irrelevant or inaccurate information.

2. Juggling tasks slows you down

Multitasking does not help save time because individuals are more likely to take more time to complete multiple projects. In contrast, it is easier to reduce working time when focusing on one project.

3. Multitasking can lead to anxiety

Anxiety is a debilitating consequence of multitasking. Individuals who continually switch between multiple tasks are more vulnerable to the feeling of anxiety. The symptoms of interrupted work can come in the form of psychological and physical effects.

4. Creativity suffers

Focusing on multiple tasks depletes the mental resources required to generate innovative concepts. It becomes harder to boost performance because individuals are forced to tap into more primitive structures of the brain. The frontal lobe of the brain is designed for creative and critical thinking. However, its capacity is compromised when juggling a number of tasks that require significant concentration levels.

5. Bad brain habits

Neuroscientists discourage multitasking because the human brain is not wired to handle multiple projects at the same time. Experts state that there is a cognitive consequence of juggling several tasks. The approach promotes bad habits as the brain adjusts to being bombarded with information.

Scientists discovered that when individuals complete minor tasks like sending an email, a reward hormone known as dopamine is delivered to the brain. This encourages an professionals to keep switching between small tasks throughout the day due to the mental gratification. In turn, the bad habit triggers an unhealthy feedback loop that gives people an impression of accomplishing a lot of work.

However, this is not the case and some experts refer to constant email or social media checking as a neural addiction. Although humans can perform automatic or routine tasks at the same time, the brain is unable to process information streams that require attention at the same time. It is a limitation of the prefrontal cortex, which is the central resource for intelligence. Handling many tasks at once creates interference in the way the brain processes information.

Final Thoughts on Multitasking and Focus

Avoid temptation by deactivating email and social media alerts on your computer and smartphone for fixed periods. You can then focus only on the current project. Reconnect once you have completed the project.

In the same way, take fixed periods to read blog posts, news or any other relevant information. This will keep you up-to-date with the latest trends in your field without undermining productivity. You will have the bonus of better understanding and remembering what you read.

Here’s to your success.

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