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Why Multi-tasking May Not Be Good For You

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

"I am great at multi-tasking" "I can multi-task well" Years ago I used to say these statements proudly. During job interviews when I was asked what my strengths were, I would announce that I was great at multi-tasking. I would write it on my job reviews. I can multi-task well. I would say it loud and proud, and look in pity at anyone who said that they were not good at multi-tasking. What was up with them? It was my badge of honor. Being able to do several things at once was a good thing right?

Well back then yes. We all thought it was a good thing to be great at multi-tasking. If you were good at doing multiple things you were applauded. I can remember hiring staff on the basis that they said they were good at multi-tasking.

Well fast forward and now we find that multi-tasking is not all it is set up to be and that it can be detrimental to our health. Our brains are not wired to multi-task well. Wait..say what?

According to several articles that I read on this topic, some of the negatives to multi-tasking is that when we are multi-tasking we are not in the moment. We are not doing everything well when we are trying to do several things at one time. Something is getting left out. Just the other day, I was listening to a webinar at work. I was also checking email and cleaning off my desk. Needless to say, I did not remember much of the info from the webinar and had to listen to it on the replay and the piles on my desk are just as high. But all my emails were taken care of. There was also the day a couple of weeks ago, that I was driving to work, looking in the console for a cd and talking on my cell phone. That was just dumb and dangerous. Multi-tasking at its finest huh? Not really, I got pulled over for speeding.

Multi-tasking actually reduces our efficiency because our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. When we try to do two things at once our brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Whew, that is good to know. I thought it was me. Because lately when I have tried to work like I have always worked, on several tasks at one time it has been hard. Actually I have been feeling overwhelmed. I would start different projects and not complete them and feel quite overwhelmed during the process. Now I know why. My brain was confused. When you multi-task you end up not actually being able to complete anything to the best of your ability because your attention is scattered.

I know there will be times when we might have to work on several things at a time. But walking down a busy street while looking at your phone is not one of them. I actually watched a young woman walk into busy Michigan avenue traffic because her eyes were glued to her phone. Fortunately she didn't get hurt, but it could have been bad.

So now you know. Being good at multi-tasking is not all that. Trying to do many things at the same time won't let you be great. Taking the time to work on and complete one task is better and less stressful

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

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