We’ve mentioned a few times at Lifehack.org that you can’t really do more than one brain-intensive thing at once, instead only switch between tasks. And I’m not talking about smoking while riding your push-bike.
So the underlining productivity tip is not to multitask. Kim Roach wrote it in her article, 50 Ways To Increase Your Productivity and I threw up a few points on how you could carry out multiple tasks at once in How To Multitask.
However, the message was you can’t multitask, so focus on one thing and move to the next when you can. A more accurate, and productive, method of multitasking is spending a short amount of time on one thing and then the next and then back to the first – so on and so on.
WebMD has brought up another interesting point that may help, and that is when we are trying to master two tasks at once, it is best if they aren’t similar.
The example of listening to music while reading makes sense: you read faster and clearer if the music you listen to has no lyrics.
Another tip is to undertake tasks that don’t require absorption or learning; only things that need execution and aren’t greatly affected by mistakes.
“Results are always worse when you multitask, but in some areas they’re especially compromised,” says Russell Poldrack, PhD, associate professor of psychology at UCLA. Learning takes a big hit, for instance. “Our research shows that if you try to master something while splitting your attention, brain activity switches regions; from memory building to short-term habit making,” he says.
Again, it’s just the idea of maintaining focus. You can’t work as well if you aren’t focused on the job at hand, so try to split tasks as you do them.