4 reasons why multitasking is a silent productivity-killer

Multitasking is a admired skill, but it's actually a skill you need to unlearn yourself asap

Looking at a LinkedIn profile or browsing for a new job and you will notice multitasking as required or mastered skill that people are proud of having. Wait, what? While someone who multi-tasks sounds like a überproductive person, multitasking is the silent productivity-killer. Let's dissect the so-called skill of multitasking to find out why it just might be you biggest enemy.


Drained working memory

When you switch tasks, you don't get just as easy into it as the time before. This means that when switching tasks you can waste a lot of brainpower finding the right info to start the new task, and prepare to do the work. This process takes up working memory every time you switch and it also takes time depending on the size of the tasks. In the end you're stuck with a full bank of memory making you unable to focus as good as you want to, and multiple tasks unfinished and on your mind. What's also important to mention: research at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that multitasking breaks down the creativity you can put into the task at hand, because of the flooded working memory. How's that for an eyeopener.


Jack of much, master of incomplete

In a regular day a lot of things do to pass your table, big and small. When multitasking, you might take a look at that email and let it sit there, postponing it and switching to another task? You might be finished with a day and notice that that email is still sitting in your inbox / to do list and you've read it multiple times but you didn't actually finish.


Alert! Alert!

When attempting to multi-task, you are constantly focused on several things at once. This pushes your high alert mode to new levels. Because you are on high alert mode, you are really seductive to distractions. This means every new mail alert, Whats App message or colleague asking about the weather is pulling attention away. This is because you think you fare well on doing several things at once. Also researchers estimate it can take to up to 15 minutes to regain focus after being distracted. You do the math.

You're not even multitasking!

You are just switching between all the the tasks you are doing, because a human being is built to do one thing at a time. And research has shown switching tasks can lose you up to 40 percent of your productive time. I will do that math for you; on a 8 hour workday that's more than 3 hours spent on switching. Would single tasking give you 3 hours extra in your workday? Give it a try!

Single-tasking sounds like a stupid skill for slow people who aren't able to do as awesome stuff as you, but instead it's an instrumental skill which you need to master. You can start ticking actual boxes rather then trying to do complete 1.453 things at once and finishing nothing. You need to demand it of yourself in this era of massive waves of distraction.


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