Do you know what one of the worst habits in business is? Most people attempt to do it. Some people praise others for their ability to do it. But in the end, it is one of the least productive habits of all time, and in fact, slows you down. It can even lower your IQ and damage your brain!
The habit is called multitasking.
There is a legitimate reason a person cannot truly multitask. It is called task-switching. Our brain allows us to do one thing at a time, dividing its bandwidth between each task. A simple way to test this is to try patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. Anyone can do it with a little practice. Now switch your hands and try it again. Not so easy, is it?
“What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.” Susan Cain
If you are familiar with serial and parallel processing in computers, the brain functions both ways. Your brain carries out many activities simultaneously in a parallel processing fashion, such as with each of our senses, breathing, heart rate, etc. But when it comes to doing a task, it can only operate in a serial fashion, which means it can only do one thing at a time.
Rather than get into all of the science behind how the brain operates, let’s see it firsthand. The following video clearly shows a person cannot do two things at one time very well. And yes, it is funny, especially since it’s not happening to us!
Then there is the more serious side to attempting to multitask. Do not try this at home! Or in the car, or anywhere else for that matter!
One final video showing an attempt to multitask that is both serious and funny. The laugh is on the man driving in the end.
Imagine how much you are missing and the potentially serious effects on others by attempting to multitask in the workplace. Or at home with loved ones.
“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” Gary W. Keller
Your work and your personal life deserve to be multitask free zones.
You can get far more accomplished with fewer errors at work in a shorter amount of time by focusing on the task at hand and avoiding multitasking. You will also create far more goodwill at home by being fully present and not divided in your attention.
The bottom line is multitasking shows disrespect for those around you as well as for your health and safety. It also lowers your IQ and can damage your brain, so why keep doing it?
The cure for multitasking — JUST STOP IT!
“You’d think people would realize they’re bad at multitasking and would quit. But a cognitive illusion sets in, fueled in part by a dopamine-adrenaline feedback loop, in which multitaskers think they are doing great.” Daniel Levitin
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Bill Abbate Leadership Writer and Editor in ILLUMINATION
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