Multitasking: Should You Or Shouldn't You?

self care Nov 28, 2018


It is best to focus on one task at a time.  For example, at work, read your emails at one time, make your phone calls at another, and work on a report after those tasks are done.  If you start writing a report and stop to check an email, your brain has to totally “switch channels” to a different process.  This stop/start process may not take very long, but these incidents add up over the day.

Doing more than one thing at a time also makes it harder to focus on the new task you’re switching to, leading to more mistakes, stress, and fatigue.  Making mistakes means spending more time trying to find and correct them or doing the task a second time.  Sticking with one task at a time makes it more likely that the task will actually be completed.  There is also research that shows that heart rates are higher when your brain is working on multiple things.

Multitasking has been shown to lead to forgetfulness.  Because the brain isn’t getting the opportunity to fully concentrate on one thing, it may not have had a chance to absorb everything it was supposed to.  When trying to recall details of things done while multitasking, the brain is able to remember far less than when doing one thing at a time.

Other consequences include missing out on things that are happening around you.  Let’s go back to the work example.  If you are talking on the phone while answering emails, there is a good chance that you may not notice the customer who just walked by your desk, or that the important paper on your desk just fell into the trashcan beside it.  And if you’re body conscious, there are also studies that show that multitasking can lead to weight gain!  This is especially true of people who eat while watching television working on the computer.  They are often unaware of how much they’re actually eating and tend to overeat.  Multitasking may also hinder creativity.  When the brain is scattered over multiple tasks, there just isn’t enough energy left to think

Is multitasking EVER good?

There are however times when multitasking is acceptable.  Running and listening to music is a good example.  In a situation like this, one can use the music to distract from the work and monotony of running.  The music can also assist in providing the energy and mood to make the run a good one.  Also, mopping the floors while the laundry is in or dinner is baking are good examples.  These are tasks that require no thought once they are started with plenty of time for the mind to transition from one thing to the next stress free.





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