You may have been encouraged to believe that multitasking is a good thing. It has been promoted as something that makes you more efficient and productive. But did you know that trying to do too many things at once actually harms your brain?
In the past, there was a limit to how many things you could do at one time, but modern technology has encouraged people to take on more and more just to stay in the game. It’s rare to see someone walking down the street not glued to their smartphone on their way to a meeting while chugging their takeout coffee.
Of course, humans are designed to be able to do more than one thing at a time. Even back in the caveman days, you had to be able to have a conversation and hunt and gather at the same time.
But what science is now telling us is that we multitask at our own risk. Here’s what happens when you try to do two or more things at once.
1. Your Productivity Goes Down
It’s a myth that multitasking makes you more proactive. Study after study has shown that multitasking slows you down as you switch from one activity to another. It can take up to five minutes to get back into the flow, which can lead to a 40% loss in productivity. On top of that, you make more mistakes when you multi-task.
2. Your Cognitive Performance Drops
Switching between tasks disrupts your short-term memory, lowers your comprehension and creativity, and reduces your capacity to learn and retain information. It can even reduce your IQ by 15 points.
3. Multitasking Affects Your Judgment
Believing you’re a good multitasker can lead to having an inflated view of your skills. People who routinely multitask have trouble organizing and analyzing their thoughts, they make more mistakes and retain less information.
4. Multitasking is Risky
Trying to do too much at once can be actively dangerous to yourself and to others. Having a conversation while you’re crossing the street and checking your email on your phone is asking for trouble. And texting is the big, red flag for car accidents. Statistics show that texting while you drive is more dangerous than drunk driving, and texting drivers cause 25% of car accidents.
Weaning yourself off multitasking will have benefits for your mental and physical health while making you much more efficient. It’s time to slow down and just take things one at a time!