Multi-taskers are unproductive!
We think we are getting more done by doing several things at once. In reality, our productivity goes down by as much as 40%. We don’t actually multi-task. We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.
You might think you can do it and that you’ve done it for so long that you’re good at it. Practice makes perfect? NO. You are wrong. Research shows that heavy multi-taskers are less competent at doing several things at once than light multi-taskers. Actually, in contrast to almost everything else in life, the more you multi-task, the worse you are at it. Practice does not make perfect in this instance.
So how do we resist the temptation?
Peter Bregman has made two suggestions in one of his weekly columns in Harvard Business Review:
- The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off. Disconnect your computer from its wireless connection and put your phone on silent – or for the very brave…switch it off!
- Use your loss of patience to your advantage. Create unrealistically short deadlines. Cut all meetings in half. Give yourself a third of the time you think you need to complete a task. There’s nothing like a deadline to keep things moving – you have to focus. Interestingly, because multitasking is so stressful, single-tasking to meet a tight deadline will actually reduce stress. So, giving yourself less time to do things could make you more productive and relaxed
Can’t help multi-tasking? Try Peter’s remedy – relax and be more productive!