Why is it harmful to do several things at the same time?


Multitasking comes into our lives when a lot of things are dumped on us. Everyone does this – children eat and watch TV at the same time (or play on the iPad), adults simultaneously walk around the city and look at something in their smartphone. We pride ourselves on our multitasking ability, which is how we provide more value to the employer and household. But it’s not right!

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Think back to your last multitasking job and answer the question “Did I actually do more with the same quality?” That’s just it.

Our love of redoing everything in one time frame means that we strive to be productive. But multitasking is definitely not the best way to do it.

But here we have a very serious enemy – our brain. When we do several routine, boring operations in one go, he rewards us with the release of the “joy hormone” dopamine. It is a very pleasant experience, and we want to experience it over and over again. This is why multitasking is so hard to get rid of. And it would be worth it.

stress at work

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Bigger is not better

Why? After all, each of us knows from childhood that the more things you do at the same time, the better. But scientific research refutes this opinion. Scientists believe that our brains are simply not designed to focus on several things at the same time.

In other words, if you have to concentrate on two things right now, you will never be able to fully control both. All your brain can do in such a situation is to switch very quickly between objects and give you the illusion that you are 100% both there and there.

In this mode of operation, you cannot be as efficient as when performing only one task. As a result, mistakes (because the brain has to focus again after switching to the next task, and this does not happen immediately) and a feeling of stress due to the fact that you constantly have to switch between tasks. Memory suffers – and, of course, the quality of work. Yes, by the end of the day, you can get more done by multitasking. But what about quality? Have you had time to think about what you are doing?

If you want to do well, then you should ditch multitasking in favor of only working on one task at a time.

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Single-tasking produces better results

Research shows that working on only one task improves the ability to control attention, memory and reduces stress – after all, in “single-taskers” the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for concentration, decision-making, forecasting, emotions, will, mental activity in general and behavior, better controls the more ancient limbic system of the brain (it is responsible for the basic autonomic and somatic reactions that we cannot control).

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How to become a “single-tasker”?

Here are some simple tips:

  • Disable unnecessary notifications on your smartphone while you work!
  • Open only one tab per browser. How often do you open 15-20 tabs at a time? Everyone does this – and completely in vain, because in the vain pursuit of multitasking we lose concentration, and therefore we do our things worse than we could. So remember – only one tab, and only one task.
  • Start small. If you switch to “single-tasking” abruptly, your brain will get scared – and may well bury a good endeavor. Take your time, act gradually. Eat in silence today, no TV or PC. When you come to the cafe tomorrow, turn off your phone. Fight multitasking at this pace and you will quickly notice that your life has become more meaningful.
  • Set priorities. We all have hundreds, if not thousands, of things that deserve our attention. But let’s be realistic. It is better to single out the main ones from their number and do them well, than to do everything in a hurry, according to the principle “it will do just fine.”
  • Don’t take on a hundred things. Learn to say no to at least some things. There are many tasks, but you are one
  • Tell your colleagues. They still don’t know that you are setting priorities in a new way, and throughout the day they constantly distract you with various small things. Tell them what and how you are doing – and with a high degree of probability they will understand everything, moreover, they will be imbued with respect for you.

All of these tips will help you curb your restless (or, as the Buddhists say, “monkey”) mind. Every time you move away from multitasking in favor of sensible single-tasking, you will “pump” your attention skill. And over time, the habit of doing several things at the same time will give way to a new, much more useful skill – the ability to quickly and well concentrate attention.

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