There’s a commonly held belief that multitasking is an excellent strategy for productivity and efficiency. We convince ourselves that being able to juggle multiple tasks at once means we’ll accomplish our goals faster.
It’s easy to assume that answering emails during your video conferences, or planning your workflow while you’re also talking to your colleague are great ways to make the most of your time.
As a business leader, the chances are every moment you have is precious.
Unfortunately, multitasking isn’t the time-saving solution most people think it is. In fact, according to studies, it reduces productivity by 40% and robs business leaders of everything from creativity to accuracy.
Here’s why you should stop multitasking, and start focusing on one thing at a time.
Multitasking Slows You Down
One common reason people start multi-tasking is that they assume juggling multiple tasks simultaneously will help them get more done. However, multi-tasking often results in you taking longer to get jobs done.
This is because you’re constantly moving back-and-forth between different projects. Every time you shift from one task to another you need to remind yourself what you were doing and get into the flow with your work.
What actually saves time is focusing on one task until it’s done, and then moving onto something else. When you’re completely focused on a single task, you’re less likely to get confused, make mistakes, and slow yourself down in the process.
Multitasking Leads to Errors
When you’re multitasking, you’re not giving any task your full attention.Even if you’re great at switching from one task to another in quick succession, you’re still going to have part of your mind focused on the other task you’re dealing with.
Lack of focus means you’re more likely to make mistakes, which means spending more time going back and fixing whatever you did wrong.
Not only does multitasking lead to mistakes, it also reduces the overall quality of your work. Because you’re not giving anything on your to-do list your full attention, these things aren’t getting the full benefit of your knowledge, creativity, or skills either.
Multitasking Causes Stress
Business leaders are no strangers to stress, with countless complex tasks taking up their attention every day. Multitasking can make the impact of stress on your mental healtheven worse.
According to one study from the University of California, the heart rates of people who constantly multitask are much higher than people who are able to focus on one thing at a time.
Ultimately, multitasking strains your brain as it moves between multiple different tasks in a short space of time. This places additional pressure on your cognitive processes.
The more you multitask, the more exhausted you’ll become, which increases your stress levels. It is harder to get projects done according to your required quality standards.
Multitasking Harms Your Memory
It’s not just your mental health you’re putting at risk when you consistently multitask,it’s also your overall cognitive health. If you try to do multiple things at once, you’re going to miss important details from the tasks you’re doing. This means you won’t remember much of what you were doing at a later date.
If you’re trying to multitask on projects which require remembering things, you may be unable to remember what you need.
For instance, trying to prepare for a speech while in a video meeting might seem like a good way to save time, but you could forget key points you wanted to cover.
The additional pressure on your brain can also lead to discomfort, migraines, and trouble concentrating, which also make it harder for you to focus.
Multitasking is Bad for Creativity
Great business leaders need specific skills to achieve amazing things. One of the most important characteristics you’ll need is the ability to be creative.
Multitasking requires you to use a significant amount of your working memory, or temporary brain storage. When this portion of your brain is totally occupied, it can take away your ability to think creatively.
In simple terms, if you’re focusing all of your brain power on switching between different tasks, you’re not going to have any mental capacity left to think outside of the box and come up with new innovative ideas.
Even though it may feel like a good idea at the time, the evidence shows time and time again that multitasking is one of the worst things you can do as a business leader.