ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

4 Reasons to STOP Multitasking Right Now

Updated on August 12, 2015



What is multi-tasking?

Its a phrase most of us will have used and all of us will have read. Basically in human terms it refers to us managing or 'doing' more than one task at a time. So while we are working on the computer we may also be tweeting or texting on our smart phones, perhaps having a conversation with a colleague and even eating lunch. At home we may well be cooking while entertaining children, catching up on emails or any one of a hundred other things.Get the picture, we've probably all been there and we may even feel that if we didn't multitask we'd never get everything done!

But in fact research seems to show that the reverse is true and what we need to do is to learn to be really focussed on one thing for a time then move on to something else and in fact this approach will increase our productivity and our sense of well-being.

What Does Research Tell Us?

The big message from recent research s that we can't actually multitask well at all. When we think we are multitasking what we are actually doing is switching from one tsk to another, very quickly.

There are 2 main problems with this. The first is that in most 'cognitive' tasks we need to use our short term memory and there is only so much room there, so if we try to put several things at once in there some things will be lost. How many times have you been writing an email while talking and found that you have written, unintentionally a word that you said or heard in the conversation?

Research seems to show that contrary to popular belief multitasking doesn't help us get more done in fact it can actually reduce our productivity by as much as 40%

Secondly when you think you are multitasking you are actually switching between tasks very quickly, but not quickly enough because research suggest that time is lost in the process of switching. In fact as much as 20-40% of out time may be wasted when we switch.

1 - You Will Be More Productive

However it might 'feel' to you the fact is that if you stop multitasking you are likely to be more productive. It may have the additional benefit of pushing you to set or re-assess your priorities.

If something needs doing and you deem it to be important then it deserves your undivided attention at least for a time. By focussing on a single thing you are likely not only to get it done more quickly but the quality is likely to be better too.

I know that lots of tasks may not be completed in one 'sitting' but for those longer projects then set some time when you will on them exclusively, maybe just for half an hour, but give them your whole focus and see if it makes a difference. Then you can swap to another task that you have identified as a priority and give that your full attention. You will still have to swap between tasks but by NOT doing it several times a minute you will actually save time and be more productive.

2 You Will be Less Stressed

One of the other disadvantages of trying to multitask is that it can make you 'feel' busier and more stressed. Making the decision to actually prioritise tasks then focus on one at a time, can often increase satisfaction because you can actually get some quality work done. Sometimes you can actually finish something with a few hours of concentrated work rather than have it drag on for ages because you never give it your full attention.

By NOT multitasking you set yourself a task work on it and experience the satisfaction of a job well done. Of course there may be lots of other things to do but one of the things we humans actually find stressful is trying to keep plates spinning - doing a bit here and a bit there with a firefighting mentality. It may stop them actually crashing to the ground for a while but it's often better to have fewer 'plates' and devote more time and energy to each one.

3 You'll Make Fewer Mistakes

If we are honest with ourselves I bet that a lot of us will have made mistakes while multitasking. While they may have been relatively minor they may also have had the potential to be catastrophic.

Hopefully no-one reading this has been injured if texting while walking, but I bet a lot of us have sent a text or email to the wrong person simply because we were trying to do something else at the same time. Similarly it's very easy to miss an important date or time if you are busy with social media while in a meeting. It's also easy to burn the dinner if you are also on the phone, catching up on a TV programme or getting absorbed in reading a book or emails.

If it is worth going to the meeting or having the conversation then surely it is worth giving it you undivided attention. Once adopt the mind-set that you will give things your full concentration it really helps you to decide what things are worth actually being involved in - unless of course it is something that work dictates - in which case it could be time for a chat with the boss if you are regularly giving time to things that aren't really worth concentrating on.

At home when we get into a whirl and are dashing round trying to do ten things at once it's easy to drop and spill things and actually then have to spend time doing a clear up job - there's often truth in the old proverb 'more haste less speed' and frequently we end up rushing because we are tryng to do doing several things all at the same time.

4 You Will Realise the Value of Your Time

If you can make the shift and begin to approach your days in way that is proactive not reactive, you will begin to realise how efficient and effective you can be. When that happens it's easier to become a bit more assertive and deal with distractions firmly but simply. Whether it's a colleague who keeps being determined to chat or a boss that insists on piling several jobs or projects on you at once. It will get easier to explain calmly but assertively what you are concentrating on and when you will be ready for something else.

But it is something that you have to learn, many of us find it very hard not to be distracted because for so long we have not allowed ourselves to be focussed and concentrate. Instead we have allowed ourselves to be distracted by every beep of our phone or whisper from a colleague. BUt the good news is that we can improve our concentration skills and this will help us not only at work but in every aspect of our lives.

What To Do Now

In order to start giving our full attention to things sometimes takes a bit of effort and might involve making a few key decisions to change the way we do certain things

  • Set goals or priorities for each day or 'slot' within your day.
  • Put unnecessary technology aside for a time, if you are working on the computer on a task that needs concentration then put your phone out of the way or at least on silent.
  • Recognise the value of YOUR time - prioritise, focus, get a task done, then make time to relax and do that wholeheartedly too
  • If you are with people that you want to spend time with (especially children) give them the privilege of having your undivided attention
  • Enjoy getting used to a life that feels more measured, more productive and less stressed


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)