What is one of the worst habits you can have in business and in life? The funny thing about this habit is some wear it as a badge of honor, despite the harm it causes.
If there is one single habit you want to eliminate, it is this one. If your interest is piqued, read on to learn more!
Don’t do it!
A synonym for the habit we are going to discuss is juggling. The problem with juggling is that while it may be fun to watch, it takes considerable practice to learn how to do it.
While synonymous, there is a significant difference between the habit we will discuss and the art of juggling. Juggling is a narrow and limited skill you can master; where this habit has many constantly changing parts and is virtually impossible to do well without failing.
If there is one habit to give up, this is it. It is perhaps the most destructive habit in business, yet most people attempt it anyway. Some will praise others for their ability to do it. But in the end, it is possibly the least productive habit of all time and only slows you down. It can even lower your IQ and damage your brain!
Drum roll, please –
the habit is called multitasking!
Multitasking and its lie
Yes, multitasking is not a habit to praise, and if you are doing it, you should seriously consider stopping. A person cannot multitask because of the way the brain works. Your brain allows you to do one thing at a time and must divide its bandwidth between two or more tasks. This process is called task-switching.
A simple way to test this is to try patting your head and rubbing your belly simultaneously. Anyone can do it with some practice. Now switch your hands and try it again. Not so easy, is it? And this one simple thing is not nearly as complex as attempting to multitask at work or in life on a multitude of things.
To further prove the point, think about a time when you tried doing two things at once, like responding to an email while at a meeting that required your full attention. There is a good chance you missed something. Who hasn’t had this experience? Try adding one more thing, such as working on a report while you try to write the email and listen to the meeting. What happens? Everything suffers!
“What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.” Susan Cain (1968-present)
Your brain and serial and parallel processes
Computers take in and process information in two ways: serial (one bit at a time) and parallel (multiple bits simultaneously). Your brain functions similarly.
The brain can process some activities in parallel because of the autonomic nervous system. This system simultaneously processes your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. But when it comes to doing a task, your brain operates serially, meaning it can do one thing at a time, hence the need for task-switching.
The following video clearly shows a person cannot do two things at once very well. And yes, it is funny, especially since it has happened to many of us!
Then there is the more serious side to attempting to multitask. Do not try this at home! Or in the car, or anywhere else for that matter!
Imagine how much you are missing and the potentially serious effects on others when you attempt to multitask in the workplace or at home with loved ones.
“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” Gary W. Keller (1957-present)
Your work and personal life deserve to be multitask-free zones.
You can get far more accomplished with fewer errors in less time by focusing on the task at hand and avoiding multitasking. You will also create far more goodwill by being fully present and not divided in your attention.
The bottom line is multitasking is disrespectful to others when they are speaking and is not good for your health and safety. It also lowers your IQ and can damage your career, so why keep doing it?
The cure for multitasking is simple — JUST STOP IT!
“You’d think people would realize they’re bad at multitasking and would quit. But a cognitive illusion sets in, fueled in part by a dopamine-adrenaline feedback loop, in which multitaskers think they are doing great.” Daniel Levitin (1957-present)