While researching our Feel Like a Million program, we confirmed that multitasking not only contributes to feelings of stress, but also has a severe negative impact on productivity. That unleashed a debate in our office among those who pride themselves at “being good at multitasking.” The fact: No one is good at doing multiple things at once; most or all tasks will suffer.

Ask someone to type a message while you have a conversation with them. Without exception, they’ll have to pause one of the activities to perform the other. And often they bounce back and forth, producing a less-than-coherent message or failing to grasp what you’re saying.

Multitaskers are paying a mental price, says a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers conclude that heavy multitaskers — such as those attempting to email, text message, instant message, and carry on a conversation — are more easily distracted than those who engage in a single task at a time. In other words, their concentration and memory are worse, not better (the common justification for multitasking).

Multitaskers also prove to be slower at moving between tasks than those who maintain a more singular focus.

The lesson: Slow down to speed up and remember more.

 

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