Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to multitask- especially with all the mobile notifications we receive. Surely, replying to one message while writing that report is ok? But sadly, it turns out that multitasking is bad for you. And here’s why.
You’re not Designed that Way
Constantly switching between tasks makes you less efficient. And it makes sense. In order to perform, the different parts of the brain need a steady flow of oxygen, glucose and other nutrients. Depending on what we’re doing, depends on which part of the brain these nutrients are sent to.
This becomes a problem when trying to activate several different parts of the brain at once. Think of a fireman trying to put out four house fires with one hose. Sure, he could deliver some water to each house, but it’d be hard to ever put out any of the fires without concentrating on just one.
Your Brain Suffers Too
And this seriously affects our abilities to complete tasks at the same time. In fact, multitasking has even been shown to temporarily decrease IQ. Back in 2005, Dr Glenn Wilson, then a psychiatrist at at King’s College London, found that people distracted by phone calls, emails and text messages while working temporarily lost an average of 10 IQ points- the same as missing a whole night’s sleep.
More than this, another study showed that people who multitask tend to have less brain density in areas responsible for empathy and emotions. They also tend to become addicted to the instant gratification they get by completing a small task, such as responding to an email. This then creates a dangerous cycle that has you feel you’re being productive when in reality, you’re not.
Try single-tasking. Like the fireman’s hose, the brain can’t deliver enough nutrients to all parts of the brain at once. So it’s no wonder multitasking is hard. To be able to function at your best, it’s better to prioritise your tasks and deliver them one-by-one.