Here is a familiar scene, which most of the entrepreneurs would relate to: Facebook opened in one tab of the browser, Whatsapp being used on the phone, and TV screen shouting about some breaking news. Some even go one step ahead, and have their meals along with these activities, and some, God forbid, even check their company’s monthly reports.
If viewed as a third person, that entrepreneur will look like an action hero of a business movie: juggling between various tasks, looking super busy, occupied with a purpose, and solving the world’s problems in a single instant.
Technically, what that entrepreneur is doing is multitasking, and according to the science of productivity, this is a disaster.
In this age of cut-throat competition, multitasking seems like a viable and somewhat necessary requirement for the entrepreneur. And after a while, it becomes a habit.
But, in reality, multitasking is bad for your mind, heart and body. And this means, multitasking is bad for your business as well.
Here are three reasons, explaining why multitasking should be avoided:
1. Multitasking Is Like Taking Drugs: Gets You An Illusion of Happiness
When you juggle between several tasks, simultaneously, then you may feel as if you are accomplishing and finishing all these tasks, without wasting time. But that is not the truth.
What actually happens is, just like taking a psychotic drug, multitasking ‘makes’ you feel as if you are productive, which incites a sense of ‘fulfillment’ within you. In other words, you feel satisfied, and this satisfaction has nothing to do with the quality of actual work done.
As per researcher Zheng Wang, who is an assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, and has conducted a study on multitasking: “There’s this myth among some people that multitasking makes them more productive. But they seem to be misperceiving the positive feelings they get from multitasking. They are not being more productive – they just feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.”
When a task within the vicious cycle of multitasking is finished, your brain receives a dose of dopamine hormone, and you feel good.
But this feel good feeling is actually an illusion, because with time, in order to achieve that dose of dopamine, you will start doing smaller, less-significant tasks, because the accomplishment dose of hormone received after checking that Facebook notification and completing an important project would be same for your brain.
But in terms of productivity for your business, there is a huge difference. You business will eventually suffer.
2. Multitasking Slows You Down
There is a popular psychology test created by Potential Project, a group from Denmark. In this test, you draw two horizontal lines on a piece of paper and write ‘I am a great multitasker’ on one line, and numbers 1 to 20 on another. In the first try, do it separately: First write the line ‘I am a great multitasker’, and then write numbers 1 to 20 on the other line.
In the second try, do it alternatively: one letter and number at a time. Hence, first write ‘I’ on one line, and then ‘1’ on the other line. Then ‘a’ and ‘2’, ‘m’ and ‘3’, ‘a’ and ‘4’, ‘g’ and ‘5’ and so on.
If you ask another person to time your actions, then you will find that the first try takes around 20-25 seconds, while the second try will take more than a minute!
Multitasking slows you down, because when you multitask, your brain is not focusing on every task at the same time, but is switching between tasks quickly. When compared, it’s like starting an engine every 2 minutes. It puts extra burden on the brain, it slows down.
With an elongated phase of multitasking, you lose your focus, because directly and indirectly, you are abusing your brain power. You forcing the brain to load, and reload information regarding a particular task everytime you switch.
And as per scientists, just like an overburdened CPU, your brain might also crash under this unnecessary burden.
3. Multitasking can damage your thinking power
And, this one is really scary. As per researchers from University of Sussex in UK, prolonged activity of multitasking can actually cause cognitive damages to the brain.
In their study, when the subjects were exposed to multiple forms of media at the same time, without any breaks (aka, multitasking), their brain density in the crucial anterior cingulate cortex region diminishes.
The study was accomplished using Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) analyses, and as per the findings of the research, those subjects who were exposed to higher higher Media Multitasking Index (MMI), were found to be lacking grey matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex region of the brain.
Now, anterior cingulate cortex is the region of the brain which is associated with empathy and emotional control of human beings. Lack of grey matter density in this area of brain means we are becoming out of sync with society, we can get emotionally unstable and we can even harm our own selves.,
Researchers haven’t yet derived whether such prolonged activity can permanently damage our brain or not. But the damage incurred within the scope of this research is enough to warn all entrepreneurs: Multitasking is injurious to health.