As a result of the busy nature of our lives, we find ourselves multi-tasking in order to cover all the areas that require our attention. For years, the skill has been deemed to be something that is beneficial and efficient within the workplace, however, new research suggests that the ‘skill’ isn’t quite as efficient as we first thought!
Firstly, the human brain is designed to focus on one thing at a time. When we begin multi-tasking, we focus on a range of varying ideas at once, and this leads to us stretching our minds across a plethora of different focus points without even realising it. This stretch doesn’t mean that we are intently focusing on all these areas simultaneously, it just means that we are switching between points and therefore, none of them receive our full attention. This switching is far from efficient in itself, not to mention the fact that it can cause key information to be missed between transferring attention.
Multi- tasking also causes confusion; we have all had at least one moment a day when we feel as though our minds could positively explode! This overwhelming feeling is not uncommon, and can actually cause many people to become flustered and panicked… not exactly the most efficient mind set! The overloading of your brain will not only slow you down, but will be detrimental on your mental state in the long run!
Speaking of the detrimental effects of multi-tasking… the skill can mean that the quality of your work is compromised as a direct result of the switching between tasks! It not only creates a lesser quality of work, but can create a jumbled level of productivity that at the time, makes you feel as though you have achieved a lot in one day, but in fact, you have merely scraped the surface of a multitude of varying tasks. It’s much better to sit back, take 5 minutes to organise your schedule and ensure that all your tasks will be completed, just one by one!
However, it’s not just feeling overwhelmed that can be detrimental to your efficiency! New research suggests that multi-tasking can in fact cause cognitive damage. A study that was held by the University of Sussex ran MRI scans on people who engaged in multiple tasks at once and found that their brains had less brain density in their anterior cingulate cortex, or in simpler terms, the part of the brain that deals with empathy and emotional control. So it turns out it’s not just your efficiency that is being put at risk, it’s also your brains efficiency!
Another issue surrounding multi tasking arises from the world of technology; more and more people are using their smartphones whilst engaging in other tasks, which not only is detrimental to your main focus point, but these types of distractions are becoming integral in our schedules and could be taking a toll on not only our work, but also our lives. Not only is your concentration going to be on something that is less important than your work, you will not be able to concentrate fully on the conversation you are having OR your work, therefore affecting both the social and working aspects of your life!