Is Multitasking Sabotaging Your Productivity?
Interviewer, “Describe the one trait that makes you a good fit for this position.”
Candidate, “My ability to multitask blah, blah…”
Multitasking is largely viewed as a desirable trait from the point of view of employers and employees alike. But is it really a strength? According to a study at Stanford University multitasking is more likely to be detrimental to productivity. And as if that isn’t bad enough, the study goes on to say that it can also cause brain damage. According to the research, humans are not actually capable of multitasking. Our brains must switch from one task to another, and cannot physically process two, or more, different operations simultaneously. When we talk about multitasking, we are really talking about rapidly changing between cognitive operations. The study said that this leads loss of attention, resulting in reduced productivity.
Switching back and forth between ideas over time can lead to easily distracted employees who find it difficult to focus on the main task at hand. Rather, they will become distracted by the latest thing or with a task they enjoy performing vs. what actually needs to be accomplished. Additionally, constantly jumping between tasks slows down the progress of each task. As concentration is broken each time a diversion takes place, the employee has to get back in the groove of a given task in order to make progress. These multiple adjustments lead to each task taking longer than it would have the employee focused on each task individually.
That makes sense, but what about brain damage? How can multitasking actually damage one’s intellect? It is believed that mental fatigue is a major culprit. We’ve all been there. Deadlines and tasks are being shot at us from a machine gun, and we are having to switch back and forth rapidly. At the end of the day, or week, or project, our minds are tired. This will happen to all of us occasionally. But when it becomes chronic, researchers believe it causes actual changes to our brains. Specifically, reduction in the mass of our cingulate cortex. The cingulate cortex is an area of the brain that is highly involved in memory, emotions, and cognition.
There is no perfect work environment, and from time to time a good juggling act is necessary. Just try to keep it in check, for your cingulate cortex’s sake.
Danielle Foppe is a Lead Technical Recruiter at Business Centric Technology. If you are interested in learning more about how to get the best IT talent in the Dallas metroplex, contact Danielle directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 972-267-7950. Business Centric Technology specializes in recruiting IT talent in Dallas, Ft. Worth and North Texas. If you are looking for a rewarding career contact us today.