With work-from-home arrangements still a norm for many globally, chances are, you’ve found yourself working on emails during conference calls, chatting on the phone while editing sales pitches, and even doing dishes as you brainstorm the next 'Big Trend' to capitalise in your industry. Busy, busy. After all… Doing just one thing at a time in today's fast-paced society seems like such a waste, doesn't it? Why spend 2 hours on a task when you could get more done in the same time-frame by multitasking?
You’re not getting as much done as you think you are
Unfortunately, research shows that you’re not boosting your productivity by multitasking. Just the opposite, in fact. And nothing quite illustrates this point than a 2005 study carried out at the Institute of Psychiatry, where researchers found that individuals multitasking saw a 10-point fall in their IQs. For reference: that's roughly the same decrease you'd experience if you lost an entire night of sleep!
Another 2009 study found that your productivity can take as much as 40% hit when you multitask. Then, there’s also the fact that multitasking is a majorly stressful affair. And chronically elevated cortisol levels–along with its associated nasty health effects–is not something you want to deal with. But wait… There’s more. Recent research also suggests that heavy multitaskers are less competent at doing several things at once than light multitaskers. In other words: the more you multitask, the worse you are at it. Ouch.
How can I stop multitasking?
Hopefully, you don’t need much more convincing as to how bad multitasking is for you. It's slowing your brain down and hurting your productivity. Of course, saying 'Just stop doing it' is as useful advice as telling people to 'Buy Low, Sell High' in the stocks market. So, here's a handful of actionable tips that'll help you stop multitasking:
- Reduce or eliminate distractions – Getting pinged is one of the greatest distractions out there and the urge to send out a quick reply is often too challenging to resist. So, turn off your inbox/phone notifications. And if need be: consider installing apps that block distractions, like Freedom, Serene, and Cold Turkey Blocker.
- Schedule multiple breaks – Working for hours on end can really ramp up the attractiveness of your social media feed. Before you know it, ‘just 5 minutes’ of scrolling has turned into a full hour. Avoid this at all costs! Give yourself a 5- or 10-minute break once every hour. You'll return to the task with renewed focus and clarity.
- Create a list of daily priorities – Before you get to work, make a list of the most important tasks you need to complete that day; order it in terms of priority. Then, here's the most crucial bit: work your way down the list one at a time. One at a time!
Ultimately, adding a little more structure to your day–by pre-planning your daily priorities and schedule–is going to help you resist the urge to multitask. And if you need help with that… There's nothing better than The Daily Routine Journal, which guides you through the entire process of becoming the most productive (and fulfilled) version of yourself daily. Find out how the journal has helped many like yourself stop multitasking here!