Just about every resume includes a bit about how the applicant is great at multitasking. If we do multitask, most of us are pretty proud of it – being able to do several things at once seems like quite a feat. We can respond to e-mails, talk on the phone, have another window on the laptop open for our current project and open snail mail all at the same time. Wow! Super hero!
But it turns out that multitasking isn’t all we believe it to be after all. By doing more, it seems, we may actually accomplish less.
Evidence is mounting….
· A Stanford study in 2009 discovered that “People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”
· A 2005 University of London study found that “Workers distracted by e-mail and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.”
· In a 2005 book CrazyBusy, Dr. Edward Hallowell, a Massachusetts-based psychiatrist, calls multitasking a “mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously.” This was followed by an article where he defined a new condition, “Attention Deficit Trait,” which he points out occurs in high numbers in the business world and defines as “purely a response to the hyperkinetic environment in which we live,” and that he says is rampant in the business world.
· More compelling arguments on how multitasking hinders productivity are echoed by Peter Bregman of the Harvard Business Review in 2010.
· Health.com says that multitasking ups your stress level.
Of course, there are arguments on both sides of this issue, and you can find them in any google search on the topic. But it looks like multitasking’s star is falling. If you want to be more productive and creative it seems that focusing on one task at a time is the way to go.
Until next time…