It’s another day of working on your online business.
You open up your laptop, launch your applications and get started.
30 minutes in, you start checking emails on your phone in between working on your main project — got to stay on top of things, right?
Actually, there’s this one awesome Facebook group you joined recently — better see if there’s any new posts. After all, it’s business related.
Okay, no new posts yet, but you can keep the tab open and watch for notifications.
Alright, back to the main project.
Wow, you’re really getting lots of things done here, and you’re just getting started!
By working on multiple things at the same time, you’re striking off items in your list at a faster pace.
You’re being more productive, and your business will benefit from it, right?
If you’re working like this with a good conscience, you’ve fallen for the great multitasking myth.
In this article, we’ll explore why multitasking is bad, take a look at the studies that support the claim, and what you should be doing instead.
After reading this, you’ll hopefully be convinced to drop it once and for all — for the betterment of yourself and your business.
Procrastination & Multitasking
You might think that by starting on a task, and having it in front of you, you are not procrastinating.
It makes sense, right?
You’re doing something.
You’re dedicating at least some amount of energy towards a task, so you’re not putting it off.
Well, not really.
You see, sometimes, even if you decide to complete something, you’ll often find yourself procrastinating in the process.
One way to do this is to multitask.
Yes, multitasking can be a form of procrastination.
By choosing to complete a goal in an inefficient way, you’re delaying the completion, and maybe even hurting the overall quality, of your work.
When we multitask, we are dividing each moment of our task progression into separate components.
This may give the illusion that we are lightening our load of work by rotating tasks.
The reality, however, is quite the opposite.
Multitasking breaks up our focus by adding in unneeded, extra activities to our current work session.
This is a harmful and nonproductive way to approach your to-do list.
And the proof is in the pudding:
The Downwards Spiral
The idea of dividing your goals into smaller chunks of manageable content is not the bad side of multitasking, however.
Instead, it’s the periods of time with which we divide our goals that affects our mental state and performance.
Today, with the rise of technology in our society, the temptation to do more than one thing at once is almost always there.
You might think that small activities, like checking your phone for new messages, is not affecting your productivity.
However, it can quickly spiral out of control, as it often does.
How It Happens
Imagine hearing your phone vibrate on the desk beside you.
Your instinct is to reach for it and, at the very least, check to make sure that there’s not an emergency waiting for you in your inbox.
You read the text, maybe answer it, but then you notice that you’ve just received a new email.
One thing leads to another, and thirty seconds has turned to five minutes, before you finally put your phone down again.
Breaking The Habit & Regaining Focus
While each activity may only take a few minutes, it all adds up.
When you sum up a work week in your head, you could have wasted several hours on needless side activities in total.
This is precious time that could be better spent working on, and growing, your business.
If you’re one of these smartphone lovers, the solution to your multitasking problem is simple:
Put it away — just do it!
Don’t keep it right next to your computer. Instead, put it on silent mode, place it out of your reach, and start doing what you’re supposed to do.
If you’re really dependent on your phone, make a conscious decision to check it once every 30 minutes, in the form of a 5-minute break.
This way, you’ll still get to check your notifications, but you won’t find yourself spiraling into those unplanned, extended multitasking sessions.
In other words:
You’ll have a solid structure in your workflow, which makes it easier to keep your attention focused on whatever you’re working on.
Technology is, of course, only one many things that can distract us.
We all know what multitasking looks like in our own lives.
More important than identifying this behavior, however, is understanding exactly why multitasking is bad for business.
Numerous studies indicate that multitasking is an ineffective way for our minds to process information.
The Cortex Studies
One example is a research paper titled “Neural sources of performance decline during continuous multitasking,” published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Cortex.
The researchers demonstrated, in an experiment using human participants, that only a single brain region showed increased functionality during multitasking.
Notably, the singular brain region which was shown to work better in these instances is the section that allows us to multitask in the first place.
All in all, however, the research showed that the brain’s ability to process information is subjected to a bottleneck when split between two or more tasks.
In other words, when we multitask, we are only making it more difficult for our brains to process information quickly and effectively.
The Vanderbilt Studies
Other research, such as the studies done by the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, further details this issue.
It was found that multitasking “can cripple our ability to consciously perceive, hold in mind, and act upon the visual world,” as stated by the authors of the study’s publication, Rene Marois and Jason Ivanoff.
A New Way Of Working
So, after looking through the effects of multitasking, the bottom line is this:
Don’t do it!
Sometimes, you might have smaller things that need to be done throughout the work day, such as checking your inbox or sales data.
However, you don’t want to sprinkle these actions in-between your main work session.
Instead, do what we discussed — allocate time for these mini-activities before you sit down and begin your work.
When you’re going through your to-do list, make sure to keep 100% of your focus on one objective at a time.
Not only will you be more productive, but you’ll more than likely produce higher-quality work as well.