In our very busy lives, there’s always a temptation to do too much at once. We have to recognize, though, the multi-tasking downsides that make splitting our attention a fruitless endeavor. Here are ten of the biggest multi-tasking downsides that demonstrate why we should do things one at a time.
1. Multi-Tasking Will Not Mean That You’re Simultaneously Doing Multiple Tasks
First, let’s get the concept of “multi-tasking” straight. You’re not actually doing two (or more) things at once. That’s essentially impossible. Guy Winch, PhD, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries, compared our attention to a pie chart. What you’re working on takes up the majority of the pie, with only small slices left over for things you do automatically like breathing. What you’re calling multi-tasking is actually just shifting between tasks at a rapid pace. Getting into different headspaces takes energy, too, so ultimately…
2. Multi-Tasking Will Actually Waste Time
It will take longer for a driver to reach a destination if they’re constantly fiddling with the radio. Likewise, being distracted by a small task while working on a big task will eat up more time than you’re saving. To avoid multi-tasking downsides like this, you have to just suck it up and fulfill your responsibilities one at a time.
3. Multi-Tasking Will Cause You To Make More Mistakes
You know this already, but this is one of the multi-tasking downsides that bears repeating. If your mind is divided between several tasks, your mistakes will multiply. Ask yourself if you can afford to make those mistakes. If you can’t, give each activity your full attention separately.
4. Multi-Tasking Will Hurt Your Memory
A 2011 study by the University of California San Francisco suggests that quickly shifting from one task to another will impact your short term memory negatively. This becomes more and more apparent as you get older.
5. Multi-Tasking Will Inhibit Your Creativity
If you’ve devoted your attention to too many tasks at once, you don’t have enough working memory left to think up things that are truly creative. At best, you’ll get your assignments done in a workman-like fashion. This is one of the multi-tasking downsides you should be most aware of. If you multi-task, understand that your output will rarely rise above satisfactory.
6. Multi-Tasking Will Cause Anxiety
I can personally attest to this one. One of the major multi-tasking downsides is the way you start feeling unsettled when you divide your attention. The University of California, Irvine, did a test that measured the heart rates of employees with and without access to office email. Those with access to their emails remained wired up, with higher heart rates, whereas those without it were comparatively stress-free. Would you like to be stress-free? Then stop multi-tasking.
7. Multi-Tasking Will Lower Your IQ
Multi-tasking downsides can include some serious long term consequences. A study at the University of London tested IQs and found that people who multi-tasked suffered similar cognitive deficiencies as people who smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.
8. Multi-Tasking Will Stop You From Processing
You may be able to read an article while watching TV, but you probably won’t remember the contents of that article in five minutes. The same principle even holds true for eating; if you ate while doing something else your body might not recognize that you’ve been fed, causing you to eat unnecessarily. It’s amazing how varied the multi-tasking downsides are.
9. Multi-Tasking Will Have Potentially Dangerous Consequences
Some forms of multi-tasking are not only detrimental, but could actually be dangerous. For example: texting while driving. Getting back to someone a few minutes sooner isn’t worth your life or someone else’s. When multi-tasking downsides are potentially lethal, avoid the splitting of your attention.
10. Multi-Tasking Will Stop You From Really Living
If you’re playing with your phone the entire day instead of interacting or just enjoying your surroundings, you’re not truly living. We get caught up in technology and forget to actually participate in society. If that sentence describes you, then change your ways. Stop multi-tasking!