Is Multitasking Good or Bad: Pros and Cons of Multitasking

a person is multitasking

Multitasking – Pros & Cons  / Is Multitasking Productive or not ?? / Impact of Multitasking / Can you Multitask or not?

Multitasking: Employers like it, Women are presumed to be naturals at it and in fact, it is seen to be an attribute most of us would love to attain. But is being good at multitasking really something to strive for or is multitasking not good for productivity in the long run?

What is Multitasking??

Multitasking is basically working on various tasks at the same time or switching from one specific task to another with almost no interval. Multitasking can be a boon or a bane depending on different factors.

multitasking image, anjani b kuumar

 “Effective multitasking” is a kind of oxymoron. The human brain does not really multitask says Art Markman, a cognitive psychologist, it basically does is time-sharing.

Time-sharing means that the human brain can only diligently think about one task at a particular time. Basically, one focuses on one task, then another takes its place. But the move is so fast that one doesn’t even note that they are just doing one thing at once. One feels like they are multitasking. But in reality, they are time-sharing.

Aiming for high-quality work in a chaotic, distraction-filled office; you need to guide your brain to handle all that input at once. Follow these three techniques to assist you to work effectively when you have to multitask:

  • Work on related tasks together. When multitasking lessens the switching cost by accumulating the related tasks together. The more similar nature they are, the easier it will be for you to move smoothly between them.
  • Keep your to-do list visible. To be structured in your work, remind yourself what really needs to get done. Keep your to-do list in a noticeable place and rank it by priority.
  • Use downtime to review new information. One of the drawbacks of multitasking is that it affects your memory and you tend to forget things, so one should keep a note of important information.

Is multitasking something that should be done? Or is it something that is speculative and could probably cost someone more time than focusing on completion of one task at a time? Here is a glance at the basic pros and cons of multitasking.

What Are the Pros of Multitasking?

  1. Simple tasks allow for a fast switch in mental focus. The things that people are used to doing every day as a part of their routine are a positive benefit to multitasking. A parent can make lunch, talk on the phone and eat their breakfast all at the same time. If you are at work, you can listen to music, send out a text and be working on an assigned project, all at one go.
  1. It creates resilience against distractions. The modern world has numerous distractions. Starting from updates on social media, important emails, to the upcoming YouTube video; there is always something trying to catch our attention. Multitasking lets people become more buoyant against distractions as the mind is already occupied with multiple responsibilities to be completed.
  1. It provides progression on multiple duties that must be performed. Slow and steady progress is what typically wins the race. And that is what multitasking does to someone who is trying to complete multiple tasks simultaneously. In case of a specific deadline that needs to be maintained for multiple projects, it helps to make it feasible for everything to be turned in on time.
  1. It creates a habit of adaptability. Being flexible with changing circumstances is an important attribute for an individual. It helps individuals to instantly evaluate and respond with sensible solutions to changing situations and environments. While Multitasking, one naturally starts thinking of multiple ways for different situations occurring at the same time. This allows the habit of adaptability to be developed so that quick and accurate decisions can be made for each situation.
  1. It allows for sanity within a world of chaos. There are various sources through which information comes to people every day. No longer is the daily morning meeting, the one place to get tasks, that need to be completed. Instant messages, emails, text messages and other forms of communication make it possible for anyone to get in touch with you virtually from any place in the world. Instead of being bothered by all the information and distractions, structure your work and concentrate on information specific to work. By multitasking events, it becomes possible to focus on relevant information and avoid spending time on irrelevant information.

What Are the Cons of Multitasking?

  1. It creates a lot of time loss.  Shifting between one task to another creates a time gap, even for those who are well versed in the skill of multitasking. The average time consumed by someone to shift tasks is around 15 minutes and human brains work just like computers. Similar to computers one needs to shut down one particular app to open up another app or switch between them if they both are open together which results in shifting the focus and leads to wastage of time.
  1. There is a limited amount of energy every day. When a person wakes up, there is an infinite amount of energy that can be provided as output over the course of a day. Multitasking splits this energy into the different tasks and demands extra time and energy, required in switching between tasks. This leads to frustration as occupying yourself in many tasks with multiple distractions, takes a lot of time to focus on a specific chore and a lot of energy can be gone before anything ever gets done.
  1. It eliminates certain personal skills. Technology and interpersonal skills do not go hand in hand and multitasking through it has resulted in many of us deteriorating in the skill. People have social needs that technology just cannot replace. Sometimes you have got to speak with someone in order to get something accomplished in the correct manner. Similarly, emails cannot be a substitute for an actual phone call. Excess of multitasking makes a person lonely, even if they are surrounded by others which leads to sadness, despair and affects mental health.
  1. It encourages procrastination. “I will get that finished later.” “I have got 30 more minutes.” “This project is not so important as that project.” Multitasking spurs procrastination through fake confidence by making us believe that if things are not finished, they can wait and so we can focus on something else. Over time, this even causes people to ignore deadlines or even project instructions. Multitasking causes mental tiredness and people become inefficient.
  1. It becomes tougher to accomplish something that is important.  Multitasking makes an individual concentrate on the simplest of components of any project. It is because, the mind naturally limits its ability to think beyond the accomplishment of a simple task due to less time in hand. If we get lots of simple things accomplished for lots of projects, we feel pretty awesome because it feels like we have accomplished a lot. The only problem is that our mind has fooled itself into thinking this. The reality is that we are not able to achieve anything substantial in the project, despite all the hard work
  1. A distracted mind may become permanent.  Average people tend to develop a habit in about 2-3 weeks which means that there is a possibility of conversion of a distracted mind to a normal state of mind for people who are constantly multitasking. So it is advisable that people should not make multitasking a habit and focus on only one task at a particular time as these distractions, due to multitasking, might tend to become permanent and start affecting every aspect of our life. For Instance, constant usage of social media, TV and phone during Family time has a negative impact on your relationships. Greater the distraction, the chances are more that it might lead to silence in relationships.

The pros and cons of multitasking show that this practice is not for everyone. It may cause more harm than good. If you can instantly switch between tasks with a minor time gap, then it may be possible to be effective at this skill. For the average person, however, the best path to take may be to prioritize and complete just one task at a time, no matter what a hiring manager might want to see.

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