Multitasking is defined as the performance of more than one task simultaneously. In other words, multitasking refers to the ability to shift from one task to another quickly, for example, watching TV while eating or replying to emails during a meeting. Many people mistakenly believe that this results in higher productivity and time-saving. 

In fact, Dr. René Marois, an expert in neuroscience, claimed that “our brains do not handle multitasking situations well. As soon as two tasks require our attention, productivity suffers”. Indeed, studies show that our brains are designed to handle a single task at once. Rapidly switching between tasks means you force your brain to receive and process new information constantly, leading to a decrease in brain function. 

Multitasking is quite popular in the workplace due to employers’ requirement.

The following long-term health effects of multitasking might cause multitaskers think of their working style:

Reduce intelligence

Research at Stanford University figured out that multitasking is not only less productive than conducting every single thing but also lower IQ, which reflects the intelligence index. Data from the research showed that multitasking men experience an IQ score decline of 15 points, equivalent to the IQ of an 8-year-old child. 

Memory effect

According to studies from the University of California, multitasking correlates with forgetfulness. The constant distraction due to multitasking harms working memory, which is the part of short-term memory responsible for holding and processing information immediately. Consequently, working memory impairment will lower the ability to focus and chain information for immediate decision-making. 

Mental health disorders

Neuroscientist Dan Levitan mentioned that multitasking will trigger the secretion of stress hormones, namely, cortisol and adrenaline, causing more negative reactions. When too many tasks are processed at the same time, then at the end, you realize that nothing is completely done. Therefore, it generates a sense of panic and time pressure. As a result, multitasking situations lead to higher stress levels, depression, or anxiety disorders. 

Multitasking will destroy your brain (Source: HR Solutions)

In the computerized era, people tend to multitask to get several things done in the shortest time and the most productive to adapt to the competitive working environment. Additionally, a multitasking profile is helpful for workers to get attention from recruiters. Not only that, multitasking habit helps better respond to complex tasks since the brain is familiar with doing many tasks at once. But remember, those benefits just exist for a short time and mental health will be traded off in the long run.

To ease the multitasking’s impacts, there are some tips to improve this situation:

Building a to-do list 

When you have more than one task to handle at the same time, unintentionally leads to multitasking. Making a to-do list helps you actually know your workload and avoid forgetting something important. The solution is to write all to-do works down and arrange your workload in order from most to least priority. Therefore, it is easier to handle every single task in turn.

Avoid distractions

Eliminating all things that make you distracted before starting your work is necessary. To achieve that, set a time to use social networks and phones for entertainment purposes. In addition, only check emails and messages every hour. No distraction helps you boost all your attention on the task at hand. 

Applying Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro is a time-management method. This method stipulates that you only focus on one thing at once within the scheduled period. Each work interval should be done in 25 minutes, then spend a 5-minute break before changing to another work. After completing 4 consecutive work intervals, a longer break, about 15-20 minutes, should be taken to let your body and brain relax and recharge. This approach enhances discipline and remains focused to complete the work within the allotted time. Fully focusing on doing a specific thing will help the job be completed in the shortest time with the highest efficiency. 

Pomodoro approach is designed to against multitasking and improve concentration (Source: Luxafor)


Mia Dinh