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.”
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.”
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.