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Multitasking: The Arch Enemy of a Productive and Happy Workplace

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Multitasking vs. Actual Productivity

My to-do list and I are not friends. I used to enjoy making these lists, and found satisfaction in checking off the little boxes that I carefully drew next to each task. Now, though, my to-do list is a living, breathing, never-ending monster. So much so, that it seems like multitasking is my only chance of keeping up. If you're like me, you have a least ten things going on at any given time. Shifting gears on the fly has become part of our routine. The trouble is, when we have to jump back and forth between tasks, productivity levels plummet. This is primarily because it takes our brains time to shift focus between tasks. This little bit of time needed to shift our focus adds up significantly throughout the day. Our brains have to work harder in order to refocus on a task left unfinished. The statistics are frightening: "even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of someone's productive time." (American Psychological Association research).

That adds up to an average of 16 lost hours every week. Six. Teen. How much is that time worth to you?


Multitasking vs. Quality of Work

When we're working on things that require higher levels of focus (-research, writing, analyzing, and calculating), multitasking is proven to significantly impact our quality of work. Mistakes occur almost twice as often when our attention is divided while doing these high-focus tasks. Creative projects especially suffer when we're not fully focused.

Multitasking vs. the Brain

Even worse, multitasking causes a rise in stress levels in the brain. Experts say that, over time, constant multitasking can lead to short-term memory loss, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and other stress induced conditions.

How to Avoid Multitasking and Improve Productivity, Efficiency, and Quality of Work

The best "uni-taskers" suggest the following for optimum productivity:

  • Silencing your phone
  • Turn off notifications
  • Set aside specific time slots to focus on the task at hand
  • If you're in a management or executive postion, you should also find ways to cut out interruptions relating to daily operations. These tend to be the most common productivity busters.

The more you can stick to these practices, the greater a reduction in stress you'll see around the work place. Efficiency and quality of work will improve, and your company will be well on it's way to becoming a juggernaut of productivity.

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