A modern-day myth exposed: multi-tasking

If you have little faith in your ability to do more than one thing at a time, science reveals you’re onto something.

Cognitive behavioral researchers shine a light on our inability to multi-task. We simply cannot perform multiple tasks with the same level of skill as when performing one task at a time.

The old adage that women are better at multi-tasking may after all be untrue—or more accurately reflect an ability to work with less efficiency.

It’s a waste of time

The processes we go through when trying to multi-task are a lot more complex than we may realise.

When we try to do more than one thing at a time, we experience post-refractory pauses (temporary mental blanks) which occur every time we switch our focus from one task to another. We lose microseconds every time.

And that’s not all. We then have to get up to speed on the second task and by the time we revert back to the original task, our brains can take up to 15 minutes to refocus.

It’s actually more efficient to focus on one task with as few interruptions as possible.

Digital distraction

In today’s digital age, the tools we use at work can be disruptions in themselves. If you work at a computer, a constant stream of emails or instant messages can constantly avert your focus throughout the day.

If you’re able to allocate time to focus on specific tasks, you may be able to switch off your email program or set your instant messaging status to do not disturb while you’re focussing on an activity. Just remember to make yourself available when you’re free again.

Our smart phones give us the convenience of 24/7 connectivity, which means constant interruptions. That means most of us are spending less and less time in focussed activities.

Focus for less stress

If you’re able to work with minimal interruption you can be more productive. You’ll get more done in less time, and because you’re spending less energy switching from one task to another, you may experience less stress.

It’s worth considering how you may be able to change the way you do certain things. Can you start by deciding on the most important tasks you want to achieve and designate time for them where you won’t be interrupted?

If your work day is naturally disruptive, you may need to spend time either side of the day getting important tasks done.

Sometimes, all it takes is proactive communication with other people so those you work with understand that you’re aiming to get more done. You may even help your colleagues become more focussed and productive by letting them know how multi-tasking can get in the way of work!

What’s the trade off?

If you’d like to achieve more financially, call us at (08) 8231 4709. There’s no need to multi-task when you have our team behind you. We can help you prioritise the most important things you want to focus on so you can achieve your goals.

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Zac Zacharia (Managing Director) has been assisting clients to create wealth and secure their futures for over 14 years.

He is also an accomplished presenter and educator

Co-authoring the popular investment book, Property vs Shares.