Have you ever had the experience where you were busy from morning until late evening but at the end of the day, you had very little to show for the hours you spent ‘working’? If you work from your home office and you tell your family how tired you are because you were working all day, could you show what you did? If you were your boss, would she feel you were productive and deserving of payment, or were you just busy?
The Myth of Multi-Tasking
For years the ability to multi-task was like a badge that people wore proudly. Employees were considered excellent workers if they could be typing on their computer, answering the phone and taking notes at the same time.
Women who worked from home proudly spoke about their ability to speak with a client on the phone while loading the washing machine or unloading the dryer.
Many people think that being able to multi-task is a good thing. But in the end it can actually mean that you’re not focusing on any one thing. You may not be getting any one thing done well.
The Results of Research on the Myth of Multi-Tasking
Clifford Nass, a communication professor at Stanford and author of “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop, conducted research in 2009 on media multitaskers. The results of his study found that “the people who think they’re good at multitasking are actually the worst at it, and the people who think they are bad at it are ironically better at it.” And though it may seem counter intuitive, he found that the more frequently people multitask, the worse they get at it and the less likely they are to even realize the mistakes they’re making.
The Stanford University research revealed, “…after putting about 100 students through a series of three tests, the researchers realized those heavy media multitaskers are paying a big mental price.”
Although the researchers did a number of split tests, they could find no positive outcomes for persons who are high multi-taskers. More research is being done to determine if engaging in too many different tasks at one time result in damage to their cognitive control.
Why Multi-Tasking is Counter-Productive
The problem is that if you’re constantly switching between tasks, you do not give yourself time to go deep and focus on any single area. Instead you’re operating on a superficial level on all areas.
The secret to increased productivity is not multi-tasking, it’s focus. Focus on ONE system. ONE project. ONE product. ONE task at a time.
Perhaps, it’s time to stop wearing the badge of ‘multi-tasker’ so proudly and focus on one task at a time, complete that task and then move on to the next.
As an entrepreneur or small business owner you may have already discovered ways to dispel the myth of multi-tasking by having a daily or weekly blueprint or To Do list that you work from.
By prioritizing your tasks, you have control of what you do and when you do it to achieve the best results in your business.
What are your thoughts on the topic. Do you feel multi-tasking still has value? Please share in the comments.