The overachieving world admires people who
tackle many tasks at once, but researchers say that devoting attention to one
thing at a time is more productive and better for your health and safety. The
human capacity for simultaneously handling multiple tasks has been discussed
and studied for centuries. With anything and everything needed to be
accomplished in 20- minute span, this is what most of us end up doing
throughout the day.
Modern humans may be called super humans, with
their incredible capability of doing the laundry, sending emails, helping kids
with the homework and eating at the same time. We are the masters of
multitasking, and some of these routines become a habit over time.
However, this may be more of a risk than a boon.
You may be impressed at yourself for handling quite a lot of tasks at once, but
this bubble is about to burst.
While you may consider yourself efficient at
multitasking and even brag about it, the fact is, not everyone can multitask.
In fact, you may be actually doing what's called 'serial tasking'. Instead of
doing many things at a time, you're actually carrying out many tasks, one at a
time, in rapid succession.
A study on multi-tasking published in the
American Psychological Association's website describes how this type of
multitasking is not efficient, rather, it is harmful at times.
Similarly, another study published in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed shocking results on
how the greatest multitaskers are in fact, the worst multitaskers. It showed
how those who regarded themselves as great multitaskers were more likely to
make mistakes and had difficulty concentrating and took longer time to finish
tasks than those who did one thing at a time.
It is thus very clear that trading accuracy for speed can have disastrous consequences on both,
your mental health and your work efficiency
The best way to focus on your task is to avoid
distractions. Here are a few tips that will put you in a clear frame of mind,
stay focused, and help you perform better at work.
Close your cabin door
and turn off your cell phone.
Schedule meeting times
to avoid people popping into your office every now and then.
Check your voice mails
only at scheduled timings.
Prioritize. Plan your
day well ahead of time to make sure you have the time for everything.
Delegate. Get your
kids to help with the dishes so that Mom and Dad don't have to juggle with too many tasks.
Set your email program
that lets you check your mails every hour, instead of every minute.
Still think you're good at multitasking? Take
this quick test to see how your brain deals when too many things are done at
Time yourself as you create 2 separate lists -
the letters of the alphabet and the numbers from 1 to 26.
Now, alternate the numbers with the characters (A1,
B2, C3.....) and so on. Then again, create the lists as done previously (viz. the
alphabets and the numbers from 1-26). Most people find that switching between
the numbers and letters takes nearly twice as long and the work is more likely
to be riddled with errors.