The Complex Relationship Between Multitasking and Productivity

The Complex Relationship Between Multitasking and Productivity

Multitasking may seem like a clever way to improve your productivity. Usually, it means you are getting several tasks done at once. 

However, this is not always the case. While there are conflicting studies, many researchers believe multitasking ultimately has a negative effect on your overall productivity. 

Also, it could reduce your general comprehension and attention, furthering the negative impact on getting your work done. Keep reading to explore the relationship between multitasking and productivity.

Multitasking vs. Background Tasks

Before looking at whether multitasking impacts productivity, it is important to recognize what constitutes multitasking. Multitasking is when you are actively working on two or more tasks at the same time, jumping back and forth between projects. 

In comparison, tackling background tasks happens when you are doing another activity that does not require as much focus. 

For example, many employees enjoy listening to music while they work. Listening to music is considered a background task because you are not actively focusing on it. 

However, if you start making playlists or jumping around between songs, this counts as multitasking because you are shifting between your job and your music.

The main difference is that background tasks are not usually distracting. In many cases, background tasks improve productivity by making you more comfortable. 

Background noise can be an effective way to fill the silence and keep your mind from wandering, so you can focus on the task at hand.

The Downsides of Multitasking

Some studies show the biggest downside of multitasking is that it slows you down. Switching between tasks places a greater strain on your brain and can make it harder to fall into automatic behaviors. 

Each time you switch between tasks, you are putting more stress on your mind, which leads to making mistakes. 

It also limits your cognitive ability, making you more vulnerable to distractions and impulsive behavior. Individuals who frequently multitask often have a harder time setting goals and take longer to learn new skills.

Other studies show the human brain is strongest when it has a single task to focus on. It may be easier for your mind to retain information and focus intently on the task when it is your main focus. 

Multitasking divides your attention, which can make a task seem more stressful than it is because of the extra strain on your mind.

Ways to Stop Multitasking

Multitasking can be a hard habit to break. In many cases, individuals start multitasking when they are unhappy with their current task and want to focus on something else. 

Setting a schedule can be an effective way to stop multitasking. It creates a gap of time where you can focus on your work, but it also gives you something to look forward to by setting aside time for more enjoyable activities. 

If you inadvertently find yourself multitasking, try to remove any distractions from your workplace. 

When you are at your desk, make sure your phone is not on hand to distract you. If you are working on the computer, limit the number of windows you have open and do not let yourself get distracted by going to other sites.