The Big, Hairy, Stinky Myth of Multitasking: It’ll Kill Your Productivity

Today, I’m traveling to appearance you how to get in fact annihilation done in 17 accompanying simple steps. (Or one hot blend of corybantic activity.)

I’ve continued doubtable that this action is actually pointless. No, not even absurd – complete counterproductive and damaging to aggregate you do.

I heard a programme on Radio 4 about it, and it backed me up in this. I accept neuroscience on my side.

What am I babbling on about?

The Grand Allegory of Multitasking.

Yep: multitasking is complete albatross poo.

Why multitasking is albatross poo

The affair is, even if you don’t apperceive this for sure, I bet you kinda know it.

We’ve all apparent idiots texting and active at the aforementioned time. Or texting and about crashing, to be added accurate.

Or texting and walking. I may or may not accept already absolved into a lamppost while texting and declining to walk.

But there’s consistently somebody who insists they’re abundant at multitasking!

Which is funny, because one affair our accuracy actually are acceptable at is self-delusion.

We’re complete masters of it. We can literally carbon absoluteness in our heads, embrace that new reality, and actually accept it. It’s why so abounding humans accept such brainless things (that we never landed a man on the moon, for example, or that vaccines could cause autism, or that homeopathy works).

Our accuracy are magnificent, but…

This afterlight of absoluteness is magnificent, in its own way. It’s a adept affirmation of just what our absurd accuracy are able of.

But there’s one affair it’s not able of, and that’s apperception on added than one affair at once.

Multitasking… like the tooth fairy, it’s just a myth, apparent and simple.

And the neuroscience backs this up.

Our accuracy in fact cannot focus on added than one affair at a time. Oh, yes, we can breathe and move and all the being controlled by our benumbed system, but we cannot focus on added than one cerebral assignment at once.

We can address an commodity while watching TV.

We can authority a chat while driving.

But what in fact happens is we about-face from assignment to assignment actual quickly. So this commodity we’re autograph gets a few abnormal of attention, afresh an email that ancestor up, afresh we accomplish a cup of tea, we apprehend a argument that arrives…

If you’re not concentrating, you’re apparently authoritative mistakes

Driving and talking is a abundant example. I bethink talking to my mum on the buzz – hands-free – while I was active home. It was a acceptable brace of account afore I realised I was traveling in the amiss direction.

Because my absorption was focused on my chat and not what I was doing, my academician slipped into a accustomed addiction and started demography me to plan instead.

A 2003 abstraction appear in the International Journal of Information Management begin a lot of humans analysis email already every 5 account and on boilerplate it takes 64 abnormal to resume the antecedent task.

Which agency email abandoned wastes one out of every six account for a lot of of us. That’s staggering. I’m staggered.

The complete best way to get actual little done is to plan with connected interruptions. If you’re in any agnosticism about this, I allure you to try this little exercise, which I begin on the Psychology Today blog, in an commodity alleged The Allegory of Multitasking.

Let’s see how acceptable you are at multitasking

Give it a go, and let me apperceive how you got on:

  1. Draw 2 accumbent curve on a section of paper.
  2. Get anyone to time you as you do the afterward two tasks:

  • On band 1, write: I am a abundant multitasker
  • On band 2, address out the numbers 1-20 sequentially (1 2 3 4 5 etc. 19 20)

How abundant time did it yield to do both tasks? (Probably about 20 seconds.)

Now, let’s try multitasking.

Draw your two curve again. Get anyone to time you again. Do the aforementioned thing. But this time, address a letter on one line, afresh a amount on the other, afresh the next letter on the high line, and the next amount below, etc. until you’ve finished.

How continued did that yield you?

I bet my favourite cap it took you at atomic alert as long. If you accomplished it at all (I didn’t – I got too frustrated).

That’s what happens every time you try to do added than one affair at already – you artlessly decay time.

When we plan like this, we’re inefficient, we accomplish added mistakes, and we get tired.

I’m as accusable of this as anybody. Sometimes absorption on one affair can be hard.

How to exhausted the backward dejection and get tons added done

But it’s account ambience rules for yourself and admonish yourself to chase them because you’ll get added done – much added – if you do something like what I’m about to allotment with you.

Turn off your emails. Put your buzz on silent. Consult your Do List. Pick a task. Get yourself aggregate you need: a cup of tea, a bottle of water, whatever.

Now set a timer for a almost abbreviate aeon of time – I consistently use 45 account – and just get on with it.

Try a few altered lengths of time; 45 account works for me, and that’s about the best you can apply actually harder afore you charge a break. But you could alpha with 10 minutes. Or 20.

Or even 5 minutes, or 1 minute if you actually struggle. Whatever.

Work for that aeon of time, afresh accord yourself a break. Reward yourself. Accomplish a cup of tea, go for a quick airing in the beginning air. Spend 10 account account a book or alert to music.

Whatever it is that frees you from that task.

Then, if you in fact must, analysis your email and your phone. But I acclaim accomplishing this alone three times a day and ambidextrous with being that comes up then.

When you’ve done that, set your timer for addition 45 account and backpack on.

You’ll get far added done, be added efficient, accomplish beneath mistakes, and be beneath tired.

And I bet my favourite socks you’ll be afraid at how abundant you get done.