We live in a world where much is demanded of us than ever before and, as a result, we turn to productivity experts to help us compress as much as we can into our daily lives. In consideration of the pace in which we run our lives at, we turn to multitasking to become more efficient in a shorter amount of time. Multitasking is often considered the holy grail of productivity; it is said to allow multiple tasks executed simultaneously, thus allowing for greater efficiency in a shorter amount of time. One of the greatest pitfalls associated with multitasking is overestimating your ability to get a certain number of tasks completed in an allocated amount of time. Are our minds capable of such a task? Are there any associated risks with multitasking? Is multitasking the most efficient way of getting things done? What are our other options?
Multitasking does not kill productivity if you are doing two things at once; for instance, washing a car while listening to the radio, but you have less chance of recalling the music or interviews because you are focusing on the first task of washing the car.
Multitasking does not come innately; consider how many sports exist that involves only one ball and how many of those players perform one single task. Contemplate how many insurance claims are made every year in relation to someone misjudging the space between their own car and another in front, and consequently running up back of the car all due to texting, emailing or another form of multitasking while behind the wheel of a car.
The human mind is not equipped with the necessary prerequisites for tolerating with the requirements of multitasking, which include but are not limited to, concentration as well as consideration. Short-term memory can only store between five to nine pieces of information at any given time. Even if you are trying to accomplish two dissimilar tasks that both demand attention as well as consideration, your multitasking abilities will fall apart and inevitably resulting in a lack of encoding into your short-term memory. The human mind cannot absorb or process two simultaneous streams of information and directly encode it into your short-term memory. If the information is not encoded into the short term memory it cannot be impressed into your long term memory inevitably the information cannot be recalled, thus wasting your time and effort.
Multitasking is a source of stress. Frequent interruptions are a by-product of multitasking, which can lead to a sense of urgency, which in turn produces mental pressure. This so-called pressure is a form of stress and frequent intense multitasking is a form of chronic stress that can lead to over time, a physical breakdown in your body compromising your health.
The Benefits of Focus
There are two types of productive days, the first is where you focus on a single task and see it through until completion and the second, is when you complete a list of tasks both small and large in a single day. Accomplishing multiple tasks in a given day is often mistaken for multitasking but it is not, throughout the day focus is given to a task individually as opposed to multiple tasks at a given time.
There is some debate over whether focusing on a single task at a time is considered productive nevertheless the point of productivity is to complete the tasks that are assigned to you in a manner that is time efficient. If you have multiple items spinning on your plate, you are less likely to complete all of those tasks, a few always end up not being completed. Incomplete tasks are a sign of low productivity. Single task focusing allows individuals to provide quality results in a slightly longer time frame whereas, multitasking can often result in compromising quality in favour of time efficiency. Is it more productive to produce quality results in a slightly longer timeframe or to risk quality in favour of time efficiency?
Which side of the fence do you stand? Are you pro-multitasking or pro single task focusing? Have you efficiently mastered the art of focusing or have you found new ways of efficiently multitasking? Let me know by using the comments box below. I’d love to hear from you.