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Why You Should Quit Multi-Tasking Now

Why You Should Quit Multi-Tasking Now

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Featured photo credit: close up multitasking man using tablet, laptop and cellphone connecting wifi in the city street urban via shutterstock.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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