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by | Nov 23, 2019 | Mural

9 Surprising Reasons Multi-Tasking Slows You Down and Kills Your Productivity

Multitasking has become a regular part of life for many people. Anything from eating and watching tv to exercising and checking work emails is the norm. Does working on multiple things help us be productive though? Multitasking is not the only way to complete something. Here are 9 reasons why multitasking makes you less productive:

1. Your memory is impacted 2. Poor work is produced 3. Confusion and disorganization occurs 4. Your IQ can decline 5. You place stress on your body 6. You miss out on life 7. Your relationships suffer 8. You can negatively alter your diet 9. Your creativity is dampened

Multitasking may seem like an ideal way to complete your task list, but it can affect many aspects of your life. Explore how multitasking slows down your productivity below.

1. Your Memory Is Impacted

When you try to do two or more things simultaneously, one thing receives more attention than the others. For example, someone may call in the early afternoon to remind you to do something. You store it in your head and continue to do numerous other tasks. However, the evening arrives, and you have no recollection of the reminder from earlier. The compulsion to multitask sabotages our memory. Everyone has what is called a “working memory.” This is another term for our short-term memory, which helps us remember things instantly. Anything such as an important deadline or the fact that we have to schedule a doctor’s appointment falls into this category. If you find lapses in your short-term memory, multitasking could likely be the culprit. Age also affects how well you can complete things. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco tested this theory. Participants focused on one visual scene for a few minutes. Then, they abruptly switched their attention to a different image. This switch was harder on people aged 60 to 80 than those in their 20s and 30s. The college study revealed that the brain has a harder time getting back on track as it ages. Suppose people multitask a lot before the age of 60. In that case, they have a chance of damaging their memory and experiencing more challenges. Focusing on one priority at a time can help with memory retention.

2. Poor Work Is Produced

When you spread all of your focus to various areas at once, you risk making more mistakes. You can also overlook or misinterpret information entirely since your brain is managing different tasks. It may seem very productive to handle numerous things at once, but you can produce low-quality work with this method. Moreover, your mind is not engaged in any of the errands or assignments you are doing. Your brain is more occupied with the act of switching gears. It is constantly trying to keep up with new and alternating information, which slows down productivity. If you can never truly “get in the zone” for any of these activities, then you will not accomplish nearly as much.

3. Confusion and Disorganization Occurs

Have you ever felt frazzled while working on something? Imagine dealing with this almost every day and placing unnecessary strain on your mental health. When you spend the day hopping back and forth between assignments and chores, it can cause you to feel drained and disorganized. You would feel much better if you spent a set number of hours working on a big project. The goal is to work smarter, not harder.

4. Your IQ Can Decline

No one considers their IQ when they are multitasking, but it can suffer as well. Research suggests that managing multiple cognitive tasks is equivalent to an IQ drop of 15 points. This revelation is nothing to take lightly. As for mental tasks, one study found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines. They were similar to what someone would expect when they stay up all night or smoke marijuana. Whenever you work on multiple projects at once, you risk lowering your IQ. Protect your brain and do not place so much pressure on it.

5. You Place Stress on Your Body

While multitasking places a considerable amount of strain on the mind, it also impacts the physical body. When someone has lots of interruptions while they work, it can cause them to move faster, not complete as many things efficiently, or burn out quickly. When people are constantly distracted and try to answer every little thing, this can place excess stress on the body. Researchers at the University of California Irvine measured the heart rates of employees with and without constant access to office email. Those who received a steady stream of messages remained in “high alert” mode and possessed high heart rates. On the other side, people who did not receive a large number of emails had better heart rates and placed less strain on themselves. If you want to remain healthy and function properly at work, find ways to work smarter, not harder. There are ways to finish duties efficiently without overextending yourself.

6. You Miss Out on Life

When was the last time you visited a family member or friend? Or noticed new improvements in your neighborhood while taking a stroll? People who are often busy doing two or more things forget to take in the world around them. In a study from Western Washington University, 75% of college students who walked across a campus square while on their phones did not notice a clown riding a unicycle nearby. How could they possibly miss that? Well, over the years, people have developed “inattentional blindness.” Even though people are technically looking at something, it is not registering in their brains. The more things you try to do simultaneously, the more you risk leaving one or more things incomplete or unsatisfactory. Instead of answering multiple people at once, respond to one person and handle their problem accordingly before proceeding. If you spend time with loved ones or take a stroll, get rid of distractions (ex. constant notifications on your phone), so you can be in the moment more.

7. Your Relationships Suffer

Multitasking plays a significant role in your personal life too. It can affect friendships, romantic partnerships, family bonds, and other types of relationships. One contributing factor is cell phones. They create rifts in communication. One evening, a husband and wife have a serious discussion. Suppose the wife suddenly disengages and decides to check a message for one minute. In that case, this halts the conversation and upsets her husband. If her husband pulls out his phone and becomes preoccupied, their communication shuts down. It is important to relate to others and openly communicate. A study from the University of Essex shows that even having a cell phone nearby can cause friction and trust issues. Instead of dismissing your friend for the 10th time by checking on a notification, put your phone away. Give your close friend undivided attention for at least 10 minutes. It can make a big difference.

8. You Can Negatively Alter Your Diet

When you work on assignments and eat, you are distracted. You are not allowing yourself to enjoy the food, and be mindful of how much you are intaking. You may think that you are not full yet, which leads to overeating. Get into the habit of solely focusing on your meal. Avoid watching television or working on a project while fueling your body. Sometimes you may have to do this, but do not make it a habit. Take an appropriate amount of time to focus on your food.

9. Your Creativity Is Dampened

Multitasking requires heavy use of people’s “working memory.” When this brain storage is occupied or drained of energy, it diminishes creative thinking. People may experience a more challenging time developing new ideas for problems and other things. It is important to let your creative juices flow. When you focus too much on multiple tasks, it becomes harder for your creative brain to function. Everyone should be able to daydream and generate spontaneous ideas when needed or desired. How can I be productive at work without multitasking? The most beneficial approach is to handle one task at a time with limited distractions. It is not always possible on certain days, depending on what is happening. But, it is crucial to develop this habit, so you allow time to complete tasks with the proper energy and focus. Try to work on something without constantly checking your email or logging onto Instagram. Do not take your cell phone with you when you go to the toilet. You can slowly train your brain to feel less overwhelmed and become more productive. Sources: Health, Medium, and The Every Girl

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