Accelerating the Advancement of Women Leaders 

STOP MULTITASKING AND GET SOMETHING DONE

September 20, 2018

You were never doing more than one thing anyway
Despite neuroscience research that for years has shown multitasking to be a myth, the concept is so appealing to busy, stressed people that we hang onto it the way an eight-year-old clings to the idea of Santa. We wish it were true.
 
In a National Public Radio (NPR) story, a professor of neuroscience at MIT, Earl Miller, explained that multitasking is a delusion. We are actually just shifting focus very quickly from one thing to another, barely paying attention to either, let alone both.
 
In fact, using functional MRI, researchers can actually see the brain struggling while trying to do two things at once. A far more effective strategy is to give your full attention to one thing at a time.
 
Still not convinced? Research shows it actually takes more time to complete the tasks you're switching between and you make more errors than when you focus on doing one task at a time in order. It’s too difficult for the brain to filter out irrelevant information and it takes four times longer for the brain to recognize new things when we attempt to multitask.
 
Perhaps it’s time to start a revolution in your workplace. Consider banning cell phones from meetings and watch meeting time shrink. Stop checking email while talking on the phone. Unless you are providing direct service, set aside at least a few hours a day for uninterrupted work time. And then discipline yourself to respect those same boundaries in others.
 
Multitasking is not only ineffective, it can erode workplace relationships with old-fashioned rudeness.


Back to News