Why multitasking doesn’t work and how to break the habit
People feel busier and more stressed than ever. In order to feel more productive, we often resort to multitasking to “get things done.”
But research shows that people who multitask are, in fact, far less productive.
Our brains are designed to focus on one, singular task at a time. When our attention is split, we’re 40% less productive, and we tend to make more mistakes.
Multitasking is also the biggest culprit for lost time. When you switch your attention from one task to another, you lose 30-60 seconds on average, or up to 10 minutes per hour trying to refocus.
But what defines multitasking? It means:
- Performing one or more tasks at the same time
- Switching back and forth between two or more tasks
- Working on several tasks in quick succession
Now that we know multitasking is really multi-slacking, it’s important to look at how we ought to approach work, stress and our personal lives. Here are four ways to break the habit:
- Plan out your day. Allot time throughout your day to focus on your list of tasks or to-dos. By blocking time on your calendar to tackle one task after another, you can better focus and build in quick breaks to recharge.
- Limit distractions. If possible, seek out a quiet, serene place for you to focus and turn your phone or other messaging devices off. If this is not possible, try listening to calm music.
- Practice mindfulness. There are many ways to calm the mind, including breath work, or doing an easy activity you enjoy like cooking. At WellStyles, we enjoy bite-sized meditations to center our thoughts and give our minds a break. Listen to this 10-minute meditation to connect with your breath and bring focus back to the present moment.
- If you must multitask, choose one mindless task. If you’re in a time crunch and have to check multiple things off your to-do list at once, combine one mindless task, like folding laundry or doing the dishes, with another task that takes a bit more energy, like having a conversation or practicing a speech.
Keeping these tips in mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work or in your personal life will help you achieve more balance, make fewer mistakes and get things done more efficiently.