The Benefits or Otherwise of Multitasking

Multitasking is a skill which has been quite the rave for some time now, it's being written on resumes, asked for interviews and often a skill people profess to have. Multitasking is the ability to do different things simultaneously, or perform them in rapid succession, not just doing them but doing them well. This includes watching television while responding to messages, scrolling through social media while writing and discussing while reading.

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While this seems to be a very good idea as it is a means to attain so much in very little time, a study showed that just 2.5% of people do so effectively. There are also some health and psychological worries regarding multitasking.

Research shows that as much as  multitasking seems like a good way out, our brain is not wired for doing multiple things simultaneously and that multitasking actually affects our attention, comprehension and overall productivity negatively as most multitaskers sometimes feel more distracted than others and have a low attention span.

Doing one thing and then the next might feel like we are doing a lot but when assessed, it turns out we achieved less than expected in the stipulated time.

Some changes need to be made when it feels like the negative impacts of multitasking are taking a toll on you.

1. Reduce the number of tasks being done at a time: Doing 3-4 things at a time especially when it involves cognitive reasoning might be too tasking for the brain and may lead to a mental block. Two things at a time is enough to handle; one might also consider the tasks to be done together, which will not be too tasking on the brain. A combination like folding clothes while having a discussion isn't too bad.

2. The 20 minutes rule: When carrying tasks in rapid succession,  you might consider spending 20 minutes on a particular task before moving to the next. Devoting oneself fully to a task for a reasonable amount of time before the next helps improve productivity. You don't have to do it all before switching to the next task. 

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3. Avoid distractions: This is a general rule while working, while some claim to work better with activities going on around them, this has turned out to have a negative impact when multitasking. Working  on things simultaneously with activities unrelated to the tasks being done happening around is not something you want to happen. When working, find a calm and cool place where you can work with minimum distraction. This will help increase your efficiency and work rate.

 4. Work with schedules: Having your day planned out is a post for productivity. When hours have been set for doing a particular thing and you know what next you need to do and the time required to do them, you end up reducing the need for multitasking. 

Schedules help build structure and discipline in a person. You don't want to have a cluttered and distracting day.

Though different views exist on multitasking, it has been found to cause  temporary increases in blood pressure and stress. Other ways of working effectively is taking the advice to be employed to reduce risk of breakdowns and burn out.

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