Multitasking: The Dangers Of A Risky Behaviour
Do You Engage In This Risky Behaviour That Lowers Your IQ?
Warning: This is not a myth or some sort of ‘fake news’. Women are, in fact, much better at doing IT than men … but that doesn’t mean they should do it. Frankly, neither should men!
What am I talking about?
Multi-tasking of course!
Performing multiple tasks at the same time is what is commonly known as ‘multi-tasking.’ The people that engage in this ‘high risk – high reward’ behavior do so in the hopes of completing their work in shorter periods of time.
How is multi-tasking a high risk behavior?
Don’t Drink and Drive!
The guy driving down the road while sending a text message is going to have greatly impaired concentration and focus ability. He will be more likely to get into an accident due to slower reaction time because the text message is syphoning some of his mental energy. At the same time, the text message being sent is likely to have all kinds of mistakes, especially spelling errors.
It appears I am using a light-hearted example, but in fact I am not. Research clearly shows engaging in cell phone activity while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Even when they have their own children in the car, few adults consciously avoid this behavior due to safety concerns … putting themselves, their children, and YOUR life at risk.
Men, Women and Keeping Score
A study compared 120 men and 120 women in a test that involved switching between various basic tasks like counting and shape recognition. When the tasks were handled one by one, the men and women were equal, but when the order of the tasks became mixed-up and the subjects had to switch back and forth, a clear winner emerged: Women.
Men were significantly slower – taking 77% longer to react, whereas women only took 69% longer. Now on the surface, this difference seems minute, but over a working day or week it adds up, researchers were quick to point out.
What if I Were to Tell You …
Here is an incredible insight: Multi-tasking does not exist. What you call ‘multi-tasking’ is really just ‘task-switching.’ Our brains are limited to a finite amount of attention and productivity, so outside of automatic activities like breathing, walking, or scratching your arm, an individual can only do so much. When you ‘multi-task’ you are constantly changing whatever it is you are doing, and you are expending a great deal of energy shifting mental gears in your mind. In other words, moving between tasks makes you less productive because not only do you never ‘get in the zone’ for any single activity, you are wasting a great deal of energy forcing your brain to micro-adjust to new tasks.
Like a Herd of Turtles in a Pot of Glue
Conventional wisdom would suggest multi-tasking saves time … Otherwise, why would anybody put themselves in harm’s way if it put them in danger, slowed them down, and made their work sloppy?
But as many people have figured out by now, conventional wisdom is often a huge crock of something you don’t want to eat.
Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking won’t save you time. If you are working on two simultaneous projects and constantly jumping back and forth between them, it will probably take you longer than if you just sat down and did each one separately.
Studies have even shown that drivers take longer to reach their destinations when talking on the phone.
How to Really Save Time
Saving time requires adopting a slightly different mindset. Since your brain expends energy ‘switching gears’ when jumping between tasks, it is best to group tasks into batches. Make your phone calls all at once, send your emails at once, even cook several dishes at once … but don’t read a book AND watch TV at the same time.
If the task at hand involves critical thinking in any way, just say ‘No’ to multi-tasking. Research indicates you will make far more mistakes and you won’t notice them because when critical thinking is involved, switching between tasks leads to a 40% fall in productivity.
Would you pay someone a full wage if they just sat around twiddling their thumbs for 40% of the time they were on the job? Of course not! So if you’re the CEO of your life, shouldn’t you demand better from yourself?
Not All Doom and Gloom
Studies do suggest however, that our brains are able to handle up to two complicated tasks without too much trouble. This is because the structure of our brain is such that it has two lobes and can divide tasks equally between the two. The problems start when you add a third task, because now are blatantly overwhelming your brain and mistakes are going to skyrocket under these conditions.
So I Can Still Drive and Text?!
It appears I have contradicted myself – warning you of the extreme dangers of driving while texting and at the same time telling you your brain can handle two complex projects simultaneously.
What appears to be a contradiction is actually not. Driving requires a huge amount of attention and although it appears you do it without thinking, your brain is sucking in huge amounts of information regarding your surroundings as you go speeding down the road. When mistakes happen, they happen incredibly quickly and the stakes are high as simple slip-ups under these conditions often prove fatal. So remember, when you drive and text, it is more like doing 5 things at once.
It Gets Worse As You Get Older
The ‘lag time’ required when switching between tasks and getting accustomed to the new task noticeably increases as we age. Not only does your memory weaken, the amount of time it takes you to ‘get in the zone’ and focus in on a single task goes up dramatically. Given this knowledge, it makes you wonder if many world leaders aren’t simply too old to be as effective as they could be. Experience and wisdom are extremely valuable, but so is the ability to stay alert and make lightning-fast, accurate decisions.
Help Is Available: Actionable Steps You Can Take Now!
In measuring the heart rates of individuals with constant email access, the results conclusively showed those who have constant access to messages exhibit higher stress levels, elevated heart rates, and exist in a state of perpetual heightened awareness. These are natural responses your body has and are good and healthy, but the problem is these responses aren’t meant to be triggered 24/7.
Those without constant access to email were less stressed and did much less multi-tasking.
The writing’s on the wall: Don’t check your email more than a couple times a day.
No Free Pizza?
Multi-tasking negatively impacts your life in ways you will never know. One study revealed students walking across a square while engaging on their cell phones. Nearly 80% failed to notice a promotion for a new pizza parlor handing out free slices of pizza. If something as exciting as free pizza can’t break students away from their phones, clearly the concept of multi-tasking is not being given sufficient respect.
If you think missing out on free pizza is bad, how about letting what could be the love of your life walk right past you without even noticing their smile?
While FocusMe can’t help you go up and say hello to said man or woman, we can help you focus in on a single project. That’s because we’re the industry leader when it comes to stripping away all the distractions – pesky things like video games, youtube, and the worst of the lot … Social Media!
FocusMe Should Probably Be Called FocusYou
I don’t mean for this to be a shameless plug, but we both know you aren’t going to stop checking your cell phone throughout the day. So what I want you to do is imagine you have a project that needs to be completed in a few days and you’ve been putting it off … and you really need to get started tomorrow morning to avoid pulling an ‘all-nighter’.
If you’re like me you struggle with working for 20-30 minutes, and then taking a break by pulling up some interesting blog you’re totally addicted to, even though it is a waste of time.
BOOM! You’ve already fallen prey to the insidious beast of multi-tasking.
What FocusMe Can Do For You
With FocusMe you can make it so checking those blogs you are addicted to is impossible. You could even make it so from 8am-11am, you won’t be able to even access the internet except for whatever few web pages you need to have access to. When we say fully customizable – we mean it. FocusMe is FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE.
Staying off of social media is no small task – but we here at FocusMe have you covered. You’ll never find yourself expending precious brain energy as you switch gears every few minutes to see if that new photo of yourself on Facebook has garnished even more ‘Likes!’
How to single-task with FocusMe? Well, the possibilities of FocusMe are limitless. You can set up a plan on which you allow just one single website by choosing the Whitelist mode (e.g. your company’s website) or you choose ‘Block All Websites’ and focus on your spreadsheet which was due yesterday. No matter what you are working on with FocusMe you make sure you get it done.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say … If you want to stop worrying and start living … TODAY … you owe it to yourself to take us up on our offer for a free trial. Because even though I am confident that without our help you can overcome the beast that is multi-tasking, why waste all the brain energy switching mental gears trying to fight it? Just sign up for a free trial of FocusMe and let us make your life easy!