We’ve already discussed the importance of  not expending our resources in order to manage a full day’s work. Your ability to concentrate is, as we’ve said, a “muscle” that gets more tired the more you use it. Now, let’s zoom in on a term that’s all too familiar for most of us: multitasking.

Multitasking, to put it simply, is rarely a good idea. Even though this behavior is widespread and often requested by employers, there is now a considerable body of research indicating that it has a negative effect on our productivity. Intuitively it may seem like a clever way of getting several things done at once, but studies show that the outcome rather is the opposite - by trying to focus on different tasks at once, it takes a longer time to finish them than if we’d tackled them separately.

Despite the negative effects of  multitasking it is a behavior that most people engage in. When our brains experience a rapid influx of information it perceives that information as important to process, leading to an increased discharge of  the neurotransmitter dopamine as a reward for our constant shifting of focus. As we’re surrounded by an increasing amount of distractions, this can have a devastating effect on our possibilities of getting things done, as well as our mental well-being. Thus, breaking the multitasking habit is a simple but important strategy for minimizing procrastination as well as making sure we stay healthy at work.

Discuss multitasking with a co-worker
You’ve now learned a few things about multitasking and how it can affect your work. Today I want you to discuss this phenomenon with a co-worker, for example over lunch or a coffee, to get his or her perspective on multitasking.

Have a look at this short clip from ASAP Science about productivity.