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Is Multi-Tasking Effective?

In this present day and age with modern technologies, we find multi-tasking easy. Talking on the phone and driving, keeping abreast with emails and messages while working on your computer, taking up new projects at the office and working on all of them at the same time. At the end of the day are you really productive? In truth, you are struggling to ensure all of them are going on smoothly because you are dividing your attention and time between each project so that you do not fail in any.

People may tend to believe that multi-tasking makes their work easier and faster. They are able to get much done in less time. But is this really effective? Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, noted that our brains are “not wired to multi-task well…When people think they’re multitasking, they‘re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do so, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

Not only is the fact that multitasking doesn’t make your work faster, it also increases your stress and ability to think properly. According to David Meyer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, juggling tasks can be very stressful. In the short term, stress makes you feel lousy. In the long term, it can become a serious threat to health. In his own opinion, the brain is not equipped to do heavy-duty multitasking.

A study at Stanford University showed that participants who multi-tasked during cognitive tasks experienced significant IQ drop. It was also stated that it could damage the brain as well. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK found in a study that people who multi-task have lower brain density in the region of their brain responsible for empathy, cognitive control and emotional control. Nevertheless, these side effects can be avoided by working on one thing at a time.

To be more effective at work you can apply the following tips below:

Set Goals
List out all you want to achieve. Plan out the necessary steps you should take in achieving your goals. Set a time frame for when you want each task completed and go for it. This helps you complete tasks faster and achieve more.

Focus
Taking up one task at a time allows you to completely concentrate on it. When you focus, you complete the task on time and reduce the errors you might have had if you juggled it with other tasks. Mindtools.com suggests that if you find your mind wandering when you should be focusing on something else, you need to guide your thoughts back to what you are doing by putting yourself in the moment. For example, you might be sitting in an important team meeting, but thinking about a speech you’ll be giving soon. Tell yourself, “I am in this meeting, and need to focus on what I’m learning here.” Often, acknowledging the moment can help keep you focused.

Avoid distractions
You may have the urge to pick up your phone and check for emails frequently. Discipline yourself not to let anything distract you until you’re done with your work. Block out all distractions, and if you get interrupted during work, take note of where you stopped and focus on the other task so you can get it done quickly and return to the former task.

Organize your work area
Keep your table properly organised. Things peeping out from different corners can distract you and make you shift focus. Also, seeing other tasks that need attention put pressure on you to shift away from the task at hand.

Take a Break
A study, in sciencedaily.com, has shown that brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods. Take few minutes off the work. Don’t pick up your phone or switch to other tasks. Close your eyes for a few minutes and relax then get back to work.

Research shows that Multi-tasking is counter productive. You can get your work done effectively by choosing to focus on a particular task at hand. Avoid distractions, set goals or personal deadlines, keep an organised work area and take intermittent short breaks. When you do less, you accomplish more not only in quantity, but in quality.

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