You may think that multi-tasking is a great way to keep up with the demands in your business. It’s a great way to get everything done and to get things done faster as you’re handling the budget, payday for your staff, and all while you’re catching up with a colleague on the latest project’s status. How well do you think that budget is getting reviewed and how likely are you to have great input for your colleague when you are busy trying to crunch numbers and ensure paychecks are accurate?
While it may sound efficient to multi-task, you are simply setting yourself up for mistakes, inaccuracies, a job done poorly, and an opportunity to do something right the first time. If you had stopped to help your colleague, then handled the budget, and then handled the paychecks, everything would have been done efficiently the first time while in the other scenario, you might be fixing errors or having a second meeting about the project. Here is a look at the price you’ll pay for being a multi-tasker.
How multi-tasking is harmful
Stop trying to do it all at once. You’re on a phone call with a client, sending instant messages to your vendors, and emailing your colleagues all at once. Not only are you likely to mess up, but you are definitely impairing your own cognitive control trying to balance many things at once. It’s horrible for your health and will stress you out as you can’t stay focused on the one task. Your brain is in trouble when you multi-task for too long, especially in a world where several streams of electronic information are open non-stop.
It may seem simple to text while watching TV, jumping from one website to another during a homework assignment, or to instant message while you email others. Because of these common combinations, researchers have studied students to see how big of a mental price they may be paying during their schooling years.
The studies find that students are constantly distracted and addicted to irrelevant information. Since social scientists have already proven that you can’t process more than one strong of information at a time, it’s important the students and business owners stop doing it right away.
Why would an attempt to be more efficient actually cost me time?
You may think that you are saving time by talking to more than one person at once through different streams of technology or that you can easily update a report while you catch up on your favorite late night show, but in reality, you’re bound to make errors, forget your work when you need to remember something later, and you’ll end up spending twice the amount of time on something as you correct it later.
If you focus on doing less, you’ll accomplish more and you may be able to work on each task a bit faster. Then, when you are ready to catch up on your favorite show, the work will already have been accomplished and you can finally relax without worrying about unfinished tasks.
Research shows that those who are overwhelmed with several streams of electronic information can’t pay attention, remember as well, or switch to another job as easily as those who simply complete on task at a time. In fact, it’s believed that media multi-taskers might be damaging their cognitive control. Instead of risking your mental health, focus on one task at a time, do it right the first time, and by the end of the day, week, or month, you’ll feel accomplished in every task you did rather than stressed and exhausted from trying to do it all at once.