Multitasking Is Damaging Your Brain: Here’s What To Do Instead!
We all have boasted about our multitasking skills in our resumes and tried to score a one-up over our competitors owing to the ability to multitask. With most of us working from home right now, chances are, we would mostly be multitasking and juggling between tasks. But is it necessary and a good thing to continue?
What is Multitasking?
Multitasking is defined as doing more than one task at once. It might include taking a phone call while replying to an email, listening to songs while working, or checking your messages while talking on the phone.
What about those who have boasted about their multitasking skills on their resumes? Well, research conducted at Stanford University compared groups of people based on their multitasking skills. The researchers found that heavy multitaskers were actually worse at multitasking. The multitaskers had to organize their thoughts frequently, which made them slower at switching tasks. Thus, the conclusion that multitasking reduces our efficiency and performance. They concluded that our brain cannot perform two tasks successfully. Research also shows that along with slowing us down, multitasking lowers our IQ.
Effects of Multitasking
Multitasking is damaging to our brain; here are the effects it has:
Research shows that apart from slowing us down, multitasking lowers our IQ. The University of London conducted a study and found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks had their IQ scores decline. The results were similar to what happens if one smokes marijuana or stays up all night. The IQ drop of 15 points lowered their score to an average range of an 8-year-old.
People believed that cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK compared the time people spent on multiple devices to the MRI scan of their brains. The results were quite shocking. They found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex. This region is responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control. While more research will truly suggest if multitasking is damaging the brain, but it sure has negative effects.
The Middle Ground
Though multitasking at work isn’t ideal, if you are loaded with work, and it is a necessity then, you can follow these steps to ease the process:
1) Plan It Out
Have a plan and defined goals. Make a timeline for each task you have in hand. This will ensure that none of your tasks are left behind, and you achieve all the targets. Prepare a blueprint for all the tasks and how you plan to achieve the desired results. It will help you avoid investing time in planning and brainstorming.
2) Similar Tasks Can Be Worked Together
If the tasks you are working on have a similar thread, they can be combined together. When you multitask, your mind switches from one task to another. Similar thread tasks will ensure the same thought process, and your short-term memory won’t suffer.
3) Eliminate Distractions
Distractions are the root of procrastination, and it indulges you in multitasking. Cell phones are the biggest distractors, as social media can consume a lot of your time. Turning off your cell phone while working can help you focus. If you want to listen to music while working, choose the ones without lyrics.
4) Keep Checking Your Tasks And Goals
Keep checking your ‘to-do’ list; it will help you focus on the tasks that are yet to be achieved. It will make you more dedicated to your work. Look back on your to-do list to make sure you are on the right track. If you have a goal that should be achieved by now, but you haven’t, you will know that you were distracted and can re-focus.
It is advisable to review your work before you submit it. You can also tally your work with the blueprint and check if the outcome is as expected. If not, you can modify it and give your best. It will also serve as a lesson to the times where you lost track of your work and what caused it so. This will help you improve your efficiency and productivity.