As business owners and managers, we find ourselves taking on multiple responsibilities.
I know from personal experience that my mind is not wired to focus on multiple things at one time. In fact, while writing this article, I have had to politely send several people away until I’m finished. With limited time, multi-tasking is something we all face on a day-to-day basis. With the holidays right around the corner, the pressure to get more done in a shorter period of time just adds to the problem.
The brain is hardwired to do only one thing at a time; what we refer to as multitasking is actually “task switching.” We all do it … texting while walking, sending emails during meetings, chatting on the phone while cooking dinner. In today’s society doing just one thing at a time seems to be wasteful. But chances are you’re not doing yourself, your boss, or your friends and family any favors by multitasking your way through the day. According to a Fox News Health article, research shows that it’s not nearly as efficient as we like to believe and can be harmful to our health. Research indicated that multitasking can actually lower IQ, shrink the brain’s gray matter and actually lower productivity by 40%. Here are some reasons why you should stop and rethink the way you work, socialize, and live your life:
It slows you down. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking doesn’t save time. In fact, it will probably take you longer to finish two projects when you’re jumping back and forth than it would to finish each one separately.
You make more mistakes. Experts estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. It can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involves a lot of critical thinking.
It stresses you out. It’s not only the physical act of multitasking that causes stress; it’s the consequences as well. If you do poorly on an exam because you studied while watching a football game on TV, it can trigger a lot of stress and increased heart rate, impacting eating habits and sleep patterns.
Missing out. “Inattentive blindness,” for example, the cellphone talker who technically is looking at their surroundings, however, none of what’s happening is actually registering in their brains. Driving a car, walking down the street, etc.
Memory suffers. Researchers asked participants to study one scene, but then abruptly switched to a different image. People ages 60 to 80 had a harder time than those in their 20’s and 30’s disengaging from the second picture and remembering details about the first. Uh-oh, baby-boomers!
Relationships suffer. A couple is having a serious talk and the wife says, ‘Oh, let me just check this message.’ Then the husband gets mad, and then he decides to check his messages, and communication just shuts down. This also happens in the workplace with co-workers.
Overeating. Eating lunch at your computer? Slow down and take a break from the screen to focus on each bite. By being distracted you may find yourself eating more than you needed.
Lack of creativity. With so much already going on in your head, multitaskers often find it harder to daydream and generate spontaneous “a ha moments.”
Bottom-line, if you take something on, don’t stop until you’ve finished it. Eliminate the stress, reduce the errors, delegate projects, create “to-do” lists and enjoy the moment!