The number one killer of productivity is multitasking. Don’t believe me? Allow me to share with you the result of a psychological study done some time ago.
In this study, researchers were concerned about the effects that multitasking has. There interest was to figure out what tasks had the greatest tendency to destroy brain cells temporarily from a list which included multitasking and smoking weed.
Well to everyone’s amazement multitasking was actually credited with destroying more brain cells (at least temporarily) than smoking pot. Stunning eh? Now that you are more suspect-able towards the downsides of multitasking you need to channel your focus to one task, but before you can do so you need to realize why multitasking is robbing you of success.
Why Does Multitasking Suck?
The reason why multitasking isn’t helpful when chasing success (or doing anything for that matter) is because your focus is all over the place. Your trying to do a million things at one time which means you cannot focus your attention on one thing and complete it to the best of your abilities. For instance, a couple example of multitasking in the office environment is most people attempt to make cold calls while checking their emails. It is obvious that this type of multitasking is not going to be beneficial in any way, however people still continue to deceive themselves by thinking they are being ‘productive’.
Multitasking occurs in different forms and shapes, and you may be surprised to realize that some forms of multitasking are not harmful, while others are outright harmful.
So What Are the Different Forms of Multitasking?
There are actually two forms of multitasking, one that is somewhat OK, and the other (the one that I just illustrated with the making cold calls example) has danger written all over it.
Before you can label your multitasking as either good or bad you need to be aware of where you are currently multitasking. Psychologist had this same problem as well and when studying consciousness psychologist figured out that our mind operates in three stages which are the following: conscious mind, pre-conscious mind, and the unconscious mind (multitasking only really applies to the first two, so I won’t waste your time by mentioning the last one). The conscious mind is where you have to use your mental state to contribute to your thinking and work. It requires the most mental effort. For instance, your conscious mind is working every time you are performing tasks that require higher mental skills.
Preconscious mind on the other hand is retrieving memories and knowledge from the past. It is characterized by tasks that don’t require much mental strength.
With all that said, the only area where you should be multitasking is if you are performing tasks that require ONLY your preconscious mind, if on the other hand you are performing tasks that require mental effort (your conscious mind) like most tasks than multitasking has detrimental effects and should be avoided at all costs.
Examples of tasks that involve just your preconscious mind are just the normal simple tasks that usually don’t produce tons of value.
However, by continuing to multitask when performing tasks that require your conscious mind you are hurting your chances of succeeding in whatever it is you are doing. Imagine your mind just running wild in all different areas trying to get a hold of things. Compare this to someone who’s mind is only travelling in one direction. It is obvious that the latter will do a much better job at the task at hand.
Furthermore, the reason why multitasking specifically robs peoples chances of succeeding is because success demands mastery and mastery demands laser focus. Unfortunately it is very difficult to have this laser focus if you are multitasking. It simply cannot be done.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself that you are not a multitasker because you only perform one task at a time. All that is great, but you may be falling victim to multitasking without even knowing it. Allow me to elaborate. You see multitasking is typically referred to as just in the psychical form, but in my perspective there is something called mental multitasking as well.
What Is Mental Multitasking?
Mental multitasking is thinking about other things when you are working on a task. Letting your mind get off whatever it is you are doing and letting it wander off is a form of mental multitasking. This in a sense might just be the worst case of multitasking, however it rarely receives any lime light.
Luckily, this form of mental multitasking can be easily overcome with a little bit of willpower and a conscious effort to stay focused on only what you are doing. Forget what happened five minutes ago and forget what is going to happen five minutes from now and just work at the task at hand. Don’t let your mind get behind or ahead, just keep it directed at whatever it is you are doing in the present.
By cutting down on your multitasking you can direct your focus to completing one task at a time and in return deliver work that is credited to be simply remarkable which shall lead you down some path of success.