“You can do two things at once, but you can't focus effectively on two things at once” – Gary Keller
Let’s face it, we suck at multitasking. Yet, we have so much to do we trick ourselves into believing we’re more productive if we multitask. We think we’re able to perform multiple tasks at the same time but in fact we’re not as our brain is just switching tasks. All we end up doing is achieving less, making more mistakes and feeling exhausted.
It was David Brooks who said: “A person who is interrupted while performing a task takes 50% more time to complete it and make 50% more errors.” Research reveals it can take almost 25 minutes to get back to a task after an interruption. Therefore, why do we interrupt ourselves by multitasking?
Multitasking only works when we perform small tasks committed to our memory that don’t require much brainpower. Just like walking and talking. Alternatively, multitasking fails when we’re trying to do 2 different tasks at the same time where each task requires some level of thought. That’s because our brain is unable to process and understand different pieces of information and then completely put that same information into short-term memory. This means information that doesn’t make it into short-term memory can’t be transferred into long-term memory for recall later. That’s partly why multitasking makes us less productive.
There’s a number of strategies that can be applied to reduce multitasking. Start with trying these 3:
- Do 1 thing at a time – you’ll get more tasks done by doing them individually
- Be Present – with what you’re working on and who you are talking to
- Eliminate Interruptions – it’s multitasking in disguise
To get more done we need to stop pretending we’re good at multitasking and become expert at monotasking.