Multitasking is often considered as a value-add for business. Who does not want their employee to work on several tasks simultaneously at one time? Rushing through deadliness, most employers will agree that the ability to multitask is the most desirable quality they look for in their new hires. However, a study conducted by Stanford University found that multitasking has high risk of decreasing performance and damaging your brain.
The research found that human brain cannot process different information all at once. When multitasking, our brain switches focus from one thing to another swiftly, and this results in loss of attention and control when processing information altogether.
While there are people who are blessed genetically with multitasking abilities, most people cannot handle it well. When someone thinks that they are good at multitasking, the fact of the matter is, they actually do not get a hold of everything.
As a leader, if you still think that each of your employees must-have this skill, then you should understand the disadvantages of multitasking in the long run below:
See: Healthy Work Habits for Healthier Employees
As stated before, multitasking exposes great danger for human brain. A research in 2014 drew comparisons in the brain of a slow-multitasker and high-multitasker. It found that the latter had lower grey-matter density in cingulate cortex.
This is a region of the brain that controls cognitive behaviours and emotions. Cramming your brain with multiple tasks at once will eventually slow down cognitive process. When it happens, you will likely find it difficult to pay attention to one particular thing.
Being multitasker makes an employee not able to rest their mind and brain. This practice brings mental fatigue that makes people less effective. The human body only has finite amount of energy, which can breakdown if it is overworked.
Working with mental fatigue often makes an employee not realise when they are making mistakes, which is not good for business. Furthermore, when people are forced to work more than their body and brain, serious health issues might follow in the future.
Contrary to popular belief, rather than getting things done faster, multitasking is slowing us down. If an employee keeps jumping back and forth between two projects, they will take more time in finishing them, compared to when they are focusing on one and then move to another.
Each activity requires specific attention span that cannot be fully accomplished if you multitask. Human brain is just like a computer. When you open too many applications, it takes longer to run the programs and it cannot work smoothly.
To solve the problem, you have to close one first before opening new ones. In this sense, human brain needs to adapt from one task to another before being able to work, so changing tasks continuously is not a healthy practice.
Most multitaskers will find it difficult to concentrate on one thing when they are used to switching between tasks and managing their attention span. Rather than making an employee efficient, multitasking actually makes people easily distracted into new things, especially the one they prefer.
Not only disadvantageous, distraction is dangerous as well. A psychological comparison proves that people who take phone calls while driving a car, are as impaired as driving a car when drunk.
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