Multitasking. It is something that a lot of people have prided themselves on for a long time. Including me. But here’s what most people don’t know. It’s a trap. Trying to do 2 things at once. Or 14. Research would say that multitasking is one of the worst things you can do for your productivity. It ruins your output and can make your work similar to that of a child.

With the smart phone and all of its tempting abilities, and the access that technology provides, it’s become nearly impossible not to try and multitask. The sirens call to us beckoning us to work on many things at once.  But you must fight it. With everything you have. Focus is the key to getting things done.

Even the term multitasking is actually a misnomer. You actually can’t do more than one thing at a time. It’s not physically possible in reality. What we are actually doing is switching tasks. So the term that is used in the research is “task switching.”

10 results of multitasking/task switching

  1. Lower productivity by up to 40%
  2. Slower completion of the task
  3. More errors in the task
  4. The brain operates less efficiently
  5. The brain can become overloaded
  6. More stress
  7. Less overall energy
  8. Lower your IQ
  9. Less fulfillment from a job well done
  10. Can even damage your brain!

Travis Bradberry shares some sobering wisdom in a Forbes article. He writes: “A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night … in the average range of an 8-year-old child! So the next time you’re writing your boss an email during a meeting, remember that your cognitive capacity is being diminished to the point that you might as well let an 8-year-old write it for you.”

Solution

The brain works the best when it can focus on a single task for an extended period of time. So we must guard our focus. Do whatever it takes to work on one thing at a time. What is your best friend when it comes to productivity?  The airplane button. So swipe up, hit the little airplane, turn your phone off and watch your productivity soar. Like an airplane.

This post is adapted from a portion of the new book ADULTING 101 coming out April 3.  Andy Stanley says it’s a “must-read book for those entering the real world.”  For all grads ages 18-29.

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Pete Hardesty

Author Pete Hardesty

Pete Hardesty grew up in Baltimore, MD and graduated from the University of Virginia. Pete then joined the staff of Young Life in 1997 till present. He lives outside of Washington D.C. where he leads the college division of Young Life for the eastern part of the U.S. He loves college students, beach volleyball, and his 2 nieces very much. Likes: His nieces, Ravens football, college people (even though they make him feel old), movies, cigars, Thai food, the Middle East. Dislikes: Country music, tomatoes, shrimp, rice crispy treats, and wet socks. Pete believes because we only get one shot at this life we need to figure out what matters and give ourselves to it. Let’s make it count. If you have a problem with this, he challenges you to meet him behind the dumpster after school to fight.

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