by Suktara Purkayastha, Oh Well Yes
Most of us inherently multitask; juggling between things comes easy to us. Like talking over the phone while typing an email, watching TV and checking our social media updates, eating and driving and so on. This ability or rather this need to multi-task comes from an innate urge to complete all the tasks within our jam-packed daily schedules. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of being highly productive individuals.
However, with the advancement in cognitive studies and increased awareness on self-development, there have been many researches recently on the human ability to multitask. Most of these studies have found that multitasking is in fact bad for our mental health as it taxes the brain unnecessarily.
As humans we are not conditioned to multitask, hopping from one task to another or doing two things at the same time is not ideal for our stress levels.
Why I decided to ditch multitasking?
Being adept at multitasking I have always advocated its merits. I firmly believed multitasking is an art of utilizing time more efficiently. To be honest I was skeptical whenever I came across such expert claims deriding the benefits of multitasking, after all I was pretty efficient both at home and in my office.
But at the same time I had these nagging thoughts creeping in my mind pertaining to the mistakes I had made while trying to do too many things at once. Like a certain typo in an official email because I was also eating at the same time or the countless moments I struggled to keep up at a conversation because I was busy checking my WhatsApp.
So for me, what started as a reluctant effort to stop multitasking and concentrate on just one task at a time has now turned into a healthy habit and actually increased my productivity.
Read these points below as to why you should stop multitasking.
Multitasking Tires Your Brain Quickly:
Research says human brain is essentially designed to mono task which means doing just one work at one time. When we try to do two or more things simultaneously our brains exerts itself to concentrate but cannot fully focus on any particular thing.
Like for example you are organizing your room while talking to a friend over the phone and watching TV. During this process your brain is constantly shuffling between all three tasks.
Normally, to move from one task to another your brain needs that fraction of time to focus its attention on the new task but if you are constantly moving between tasks, your brain cannot fully comprehend because the moment it starts focusing on one thing you may start doing something else. This multitasking tires your brain and eventually you will feel the stress too.
This is something I pointed out earlier in the post, multitasking is not equal to being more productive rather it might increase the chances of making mistakes. Since the brain is processing too much information it cannot fully register each and everything. This can result in overlapping of information leading to mistakes.
For example: Sending a text message to a wrong recipient because you were watching TV. Sounds familiar?
Additionally, in their bid to do too many things, multitasking individuals may end up having several incomplete tasks.
Multitasking has an adverse effect on your attentiveness to a task. The focus span gets severely limited when you are multitasking. You may get bored easily doing something and search avenues for instant gratification. You may even abandon or neglect a task altogether.
For example you are writing your college assignment but somehow you cannot focus so unintentionally you start checking your social media feed, or you leave your room and head to the kitchen to eat something, or start listening to music. In this case you are ignoring your task because it doesn’t stimulate you enough.
But eventually you will also get tired of continuously checking all your social media feeds or binge eating or listening to that music and you will start doing something else or maybe go back to do you college assignment.
It is important to note that in all these cases you are creating one work loop after another but not fully settling down and paying attention to just one specific thing.
Struggling to be in the present:
Most multitasking individuals have a common problem. They struggle to live in the present moment. Their brain is forever drifting back and forth between incomplete tasks and it is difficult for them to shut that down. Even during a conversation their minds are not fully present in the process. They may not be attentive listeners. They also experience difficulty in registering what the other person is trying to communicate.
This is not exactly a healthy thing for any relationship.
Multitasking affects your output and slows down the work process. When you are typing an official report on your laptop and checking your mobile every 5 minutes it not only slows down your typing speed but also obstructs the flow of your thoughts. This leads to two results a.) It considerably increases you task duration and its completion b.) It may affect your the quality of your work.
Increases Stress and Anxiety:
People who multitask lack patience to complete a job properly; most of the time they are in a hurry to get a job done. They may not do it intentionally, it just becomes their nature. Thus they get anxious if something takes too long and since they try to complete many things they get stressed out easily.
How to stop multitasking?
Limit your time on social media:
You might wonder why in all my examples I emphasized on social media. This is because these days most of our multitasking happens while managing social media. Monitor your time spent on social media and then set a limit for yourself as to how long you want to stay connected to the web.
This is the biggest favor you can do to yourself. I am not saying it will be easy but start with simple steps like checking your mobile 30 minutes after you wake-up and setting aside all electronic gadgets 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
Plan your day:
Plan your day and be practical regarding how much you can work in a day. If you keep your to-do list small you will be able to concentrate better and be more productive. If possible, set a time for yourself where you can just relax doing nothing. This duration can be as little as 5 minutes. Just sit or lie quietly during this time. It will calm down your mind.
Work in a distraction free environment
Try to work in a distraction free environment to give your full concentration to the job at hand. Keep all distractions like your mobile phones (especially your mobile phone), chit-chatting colleagues, family and friends at bay. Good concentration improves your work quality and you may also complete a job earlier than expected.
Just keep just a simple thought in mind – quality always scores over quantity – It’s not about how much we work but how good we work.
Author Bio: Suktara is creative writer and blogger. In her pursuit of happiness, she has quit her 9-5 (almost soul-sucking) corporate job and has started to blog full time at ohwellyes.com. She is nerdy by choice and often found giving tips on personal efficiency and productivity at her website.