Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work

juggling workWhy You Should Stop Juggling Your Time 

Recent studies show that while we all try to multi task throughout our day it actually doesn’t save us time and might be bad for our health.

Due to the way our brains are calibrated, taking on 2 or more tasks at the same time will slow both tasks down. Instead it is better to complete things in batches –ie pay all your bills at once, make all your required phone calls at once. This enables you to concentrate on the particular task and get it done more quickly because of the repetitive nature of it.

Making mistakes : seems obvious but a 2010 French study proved that the human brain is incapable of simultaneously doing more than 2 complex tasks because the frontal lobe can only keep track of two complex tasks at any given time. This is why you shouldn’t try and do your taxes while making dinner and speaking on the phone. Not only will all three tasks be slower than if you did them concurrently but there will be significantly more mistakes in all 3 tasks.

Depression: the resulting stress of trying to take on too much at the same time can result in depression according to Professor Koechlin. The frontal lobe of our brains is highly affected by ageing and any neuropsychiatric diseases such as depression and dementia which can make multi- tasking almost impossible. Ignoring limitations can significantly raise frustration and stress levels.

Ageing affects short term memory: multitasking naturally becomes harder as we age but for all of us disengaging from one task to complete another slows both tasks down and interrupts our short term memory. Meaning completing a task and then moving on is much more efficient.

We only have so much “temporary brain space” this is what we use to get tasks done but don’t retain details of. This can severely affect communication and creativity. Once the temporary brain space is full we opt out without realising so checking messages while having a conversation will mean we don’t get the full impact of what is being said to us.

For all these reasons we as humans are not good at multitasking even if we think we are. It can disrupt our focus making us miss things, impede creativity, cause stress, affect memory, increase mistakes and damage our health. So know your limitations and complete one task at a time


Source: Professor Koechlin French National Institute for Health and Research