Multitasking is falsely assumed to be the work trait of the most productive people. But multitasking actually affects our ability to work efficiently and kills our creativity.
Rushing to switch between several different tasks throughout the day will often result in us completing none of them. Your attention is divided and fails to focus your energy in one place. Though it may feel like you’re being more efficient, multitasking produces a higher error rate, increased stress levels and less production overall.
“By having too much information inundate you at the same time, your brain cannot differentiate between what is important and what isn’t, negatively affecting your memory,” writes Carol Deeb for Chron.com. A Stanford University study done in 2009 showed that participants who multitask the most are distracted by unimportant information that is stored in their short-term memory.
Those who multitask tend to take 50% longer to accomplish a single task, and they do so with 50% more errors. Multitasking is evidently a weakness – not a strength in workers. The University of Oregan complete a study indicating that when it comes to creative tasks specifically, multitasking resulted in none of the tasks being completed well.
So what can you do to break the habit that is seriously affecting your day?
Here are some great tips from When I Work to regain your focus and work smarter.
#1 Change Your Mentality
In order to focus on tasks, you need a clear and relaxed mind. Though stress can help us complete tasks effectively in some instances, it is a detriment to productivity for most of the time. Meditating and practicing mindfulness are proven to have amazing effects on our mental health, and there are many different ways to practice this if you find it difficult to just sit and clear your mind .
#2 Turn Things Off
Without really having a chance to resist, we get an overwhelming amount of notifications on most of our electronic devices. A great way to take back your time is to simply turn them off. Better yet, when you need to focus on a task, try and turn off your electronic devices in general. Studies show that when workers are distracted by an e-mail, it takes them on average 15 minutes to refocus back on their task.
#3 Physically Move When You Start Something New
A smarter way to break up tasks is to engage your body in some sort of movement as you switch from one to another. This allows your brain to break off from an old activity and refocus again on a new one.
#4 Master Unitasking
Start any period of work by writing out a to-do list and prioritising each task. Do not move on to the next task until you have completed the one before. Not only will you get through your work – you’ll gain a greater sense of satisfaction.
#5 Value Your Down Time
Just as much as you invest in making quality work time, your down time should be just as rich and fulfilling. Don’t spend your breaks fretting over upcoming tasks – they’re not breaks and will result in you performing worse when you return to your tasks. Do something you enjoy, something that makes you happy or makes you appreciative. Draw, go for a walk, listen to a favourite piece of music, go and buy yourself a coffee. Rewarding yourself will change your approach to the rest of your workload.
For more productivity strategies, take a look at this infographic below.
To learn more about the best way to fuel productivity, read our article on the best kind of diet to stay focused throughout the day HERE.