A trait that almost every individual includes in their resume can also be the one that can affect your productivity. Multitasking is a special skill praised by a lot of employers. However, there is a fine line between doing it in need and making it a professional habit. That is exactly when you start doing much more work without actually bringing an output of the same level.
Technology has made us crave for getting more by doing less. But, there will always be a difference in a machine and a human brain. The computers that perform multitasking also require an extensive system to prevent them from heating up, getting exhausted, or just crashing abruptly. A study conducted at Stanford University states that multitasking can not only hurt your productivity, but can also damage your brain cognitively. Below are the various aspects that make multitaskers “Jack Of All Trades, King Of None”.
One of the key ingredients of multitasking is the ability to focus on more than one thing simultaneously. What we often tend to forget is the extent of focus given to each of the tasks. Let’s say you focus on 3 tasks at the same time. When you do, your brain can never give 100% attention to each one.
Mathematically your focus will be dropped to 33.3% per task. The numbers may vary depending on the priority, difficulty, and timeline of each task. But, they will alway be closer to 33.3% instead of 100%. So, even if you can focus on 3-4 tasks at the same time, you are actually just dividing your total attention resulting in reduced focus on each individual one.
Attention To Detail
With reduced focus comes the second con of multitasking, attention. While both may seem like synonyms, they are quite different. Focus is more on the quantitative end of a task. Attention is about the micro aspects within that including quality, errors, analysis, rectifications, etc.
Multitaskers often lose the important hindsight that is highly concentrated if they focus on one task at a time. It not only increases the risk of errors, but also increases repetitive workload directly affecting the set timeline.
Can you say multitaskers are actually specially skilled people? A research study conducted at University of London says otherwise. The participants of the research were tested to measure their IQ when handling one task at a time vs multitasking. It was observed that an average decline of 15 points was consistently present in multitaskers.
This is pretty similar to the performance of a mildly drunk, marijuana induced, or a person without a night’s sleep. This clearly indicates that multitaskers over time will have a lesser IQ than people who concentrate on one task at a time.
Cognitive and Emotional quotients are two of the most important factors in defining a person, as well as an employee. Researchers at University of Sussex in the UK identified a drastic pattern of brain damage in multitaskers. These damages relate to both cognitive impairment which is temporary and reduced brain density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex which is chronic.
ACC of the brain controls the emotional as well as cognitive control of our body. The easiest example of this is the reduced attachment with one post due to the high frequency of post scrolling. Basically, the more you explore in less time, the less you get attached to it emotionally, along with less importance to it cognitively.
A Conclusive Debate
It is not evident yet that multitasking can show a physical change in the brain structure of the person over time. But, if you observe your team closely, you can clearly identify the flaws in their behavior, management, organizational willingness, and social & self awareness. A lot of organizations now teach and preach one task at a time process for better productivity. They want their employees to be focused on one, to finish it fast, and shift on the next without losing the focus at all.