Super Habit #45: Stop Multitasking

In today’s fast-moving environment it’s easy to get too busy. You see it everywhere. Online entrepreneurs, college students, soccer moms, and kids all trying to shuffle five things at once. However, many of the world’s most successful people don’t multitask. You should stop multitasking, too. It’s super habit #45.

There’s Research That Proves That Multitasking Is Bad

Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing one thing at a time. And that’s just the first of the problems with multitasking. There’s more:

  1. We suck at multitasking: People who multitask think they’re good at it. But several studies have disproven that idea. Personally, I’m not a big multitasker. I have tired to juggle a few things at once occasionally. It comes with the territory of being a single parent. It never fails that just when I think I’m rocking it, I realize I forgot something important like a doctor’s appointment or that chicken in the oven. Yikes!
  2. Something will suffer: When you do several things at once, something will get left out. This is especially true if a task includes listening and details. You can’t pay attention to details on the phone if you’re listening to music, playing a video game, and researching sports simultaneously. Well, you can, but you might wind up at the party on the wrong night.
  3. Multitasking causes stress: The more things you attempt to accomplish at once, the more pressure you’re putting on yourself. Today’s fast-paced culture is stressful enough without multitasking. If you want to reduce your stress and anxiety, do one thing at a time. The quality of your work will improve, too.
  4. The IQ connection: A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ declines. The declines mirrored what researchers might expect if participants had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their IQ scores to the average range of an 8-year-old.

The Answer Is Simple: Do One Thing at a Time

When I was in college, I discovered that I couldn’t do homework while listening to popular music. Why? Because I love popular music. I’d get caught up in the lyrics, the beat, or a guitar solo and get distracted from my work. So I quickly learned to do my homework first, then I would listen to or practice music. Sometimes I would listen to classical while working and it worked. But my point is that we shouldn’t try to do too many things at once.

That doesn’t mean you have to do a task to absolute completion. But stick to one thing before you start another. For instance, you can read for 30 minutes, then cook breakfast, then check email, then write for 60 minutes, etc. But focus on one thing at a time. Not only will you be more productive, your work will be better, too.

I encourage you to stop multitasking and learn to really pay attention to what you’re doing at each moment. Do one task at a time.

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