Multitasking, by definition, is the ability to do more than one activity at the same time. The examples of multitasking include listening to a podcast or talking to someone whilst driving, and even taking notes during lectures. As more and more people find it difficult to juggle between the time that they have, they often think multitasking would yield the best results.

Multitasking comes with varying challenges of its own and therefore, exposing oneself to more risk compared when you’re only focusing on one thing at once. People often think that multitasking means being productive because they could get more things done on time. In truth, they hardly ever do.

When it is done incorrectly, multitasking could lead to efficiency and performance decrease because the fact is, our brain lacks the capacity to do two things at once while we expect it to perform at both (Bradberry, 2020). According to Gorlick (2009), research from Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. It forces your brain to be flooded with digital information, which can decrease your brain’s ability to recall information or effectively switch one job with another (Bradberry, 2020).

There are, of course, people who naturally able to perform with multitasking. But bare in mind that multitasking increases chances of making mistakes, missing out on important details, and retaining important information—leading to obstructed problem solving skills and creativity (Skerrett, 2012).

What To Do Instead

Skerrett (2012) spoke with the authors of Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life (Hammerness and Moore), where they said that instead of doing several things at once, they suggest to set shift. As a sign of agility, the action means shifting your attention from one task to the next and giving your full attention to the task at hand (Skerrett, 2012).

Instead of dividing your focus into several things at once, there are better things that you can do to gain productivity. According to the Association for Psychological Science, working in 90-minute intervals can do just the trick. A professor at Florida State University called K. Ericsson and his peers studied elite performers of different backgrounds. He found that performers (i.e. musicians, actors, athletes, etc.) practices uninterruptedly for 90 minutes, followed by a 20-minute break.

Experts recognize this method as the 90:20 ratio, where resting the brain for 20 minutes revitalize your mind and physique for another 90 minutes of productivity. Those 20 minutes can easily be spent by scrolling through your phones or taking some walk for fresh air.

Another thing that you can look into is the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management system that encourages you to work with the time you have, rather than against it. Boogaard defines the techniques divide your work time into 25-minutes sessions each, with 5 minutes break. After four sessions (or four pomodoros), you take a longer break which lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.

Boogaard also relies on the usage of timers when applying the Pomodoro Techniques to instill a sense of urgency. This shifts your mind that thinks you have endless time in your workday to get things done to perform under only 25 minutes. The technique feels unnatural, oftentimes she would feel tempted to ignore the timer and continue working. But once she sticks to the original format, she was eager to get more done in just 25 minutes.

The last thing that you can do to push productivity into your worksheet is to limit as many interruptions as you can. Limit unnecessary conversations, decline unimportant meetings, stay away from your phone for a while and make sure they stay silent, and alert your surroundings that you’re going to be unreachable for some time. Allow yourself to become more familiar with these new techniques. In time, productivity will most definitely be ensured.


Cover Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Boogaard, K. Take it From Someone Who Hates Productivity Hacks—the Pomodoro Technique Actually Works. Retrieved August 16, 2020 from https://www.themuse.com/advice/take-it-from-someone-who-hates-productivity-hacksthe-pomodoro-technique-actually-works

Bradberry, T. (2020). Multitasking damages your brain and career, new studies suggest. Retrieved August 16, 2020 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2014/10/08/multitasking-damages-your-brain-and-career-new-studies-suggest/#564e2a7c56ee

Gorlick, A. (2009). Media multitaskers pay mental price, Stanford study shows. Retrieved August 16, 2020 from https://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/august24/multitask-research-study-082409.html

Skerrett, P. J. (2012). Multitasking—a medical and mental hazard. Retrieved August 16, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/multitasking-a-medical-and-mental-hazard-201201074063

Zucal, C. (2016). 5 Scientifically proven ways to increase productivity. Retrieved August 16, 2020 from https://www.business2community.com/strategy/5-scientifically-proven-ways-increase-productivity-01702798