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16 Aug 2018

How Do You Multitask?

Now more than ever, people (and especially business owners) are encouraged to multitask. With computers, multiple screens, email, smart phones, and social media, it can seem like it makes sense to try to do several things at once. But does it make sense? How do you multitask?

Multi-tasking

There have actually been quite a lot of studies into multitasking, and they’ve all come to the same conclusion; multitasking is a myth. Worse than that, it’s actually harmful! You can see this for yourself.

Grab a piece of paper, a pen, and a timer. First, start your timer and write the numbers 1 to 26 on one row and the alphabet on another row. Like this:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

It took me about 41 seconds.

Now do the same thing again but switch between the rows, so write A on one row and then 1 on the other row, then B on the first row and 2 on the second row, and so on. That takes me about 1 minute 12 seconds.

How did you do? When I was multitasking, that simple task took me almost twice as long! More importantly, I made two mistakes the second time. Also, the second time felt much more stressful, didn’t it?

That’s a really simple demonstration that shows the same thing that all the studies on multitasking confirm. Tasks take longer, are more stressful, and we’re more likely to make mistakes. But it goes deeper than that, multitasking is actually impossible. What our brains can do is “switch” between multiple tasks, but as we’ve just seen it isn’t something that they do very well.

When we divide our attention, our performance and productivity suffer hugely. It might not seem like a big deal to keep an eye on our emails, while we work on that new proposal, and have a conversation on Facebook, but when we actually compare it to focusing on one task at a time the difference is obvious and huge.

The trouble is that multitasking is a very addictive habit. You actually get a little rush from it. That can make it very difficult to give up. If you want to talk about how we can help you stop multitasking give us a call on 01604 529 171 and ask for Lesley or send an email direct.

Best Wishes

Jacqui

Jayne Cooter

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