In 2009, Stanford University professor Clifford Nass set out to prove definitively how multitaskers work. He studied 262 people who were accomplished multitaskers and was stunned to find multitaskers performed worse right across the board. He concluded multitasking is a lie and this in a completely inefficient way to get things done.
“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.”
– Steve Uzzell.
Why doesn’t multitasking work as well as everyone hopes?
There are several reasons:
- Whenever you interrupt your workflow, it always takes time to get back up to speed – whether the interruptio|n is short or long. Task switching always comes at a cost in terms of effectiveness.
- Whenever you switch tasks, there’s always the inbuilt danger you won’t get back to the original task. Multitasking increases the chances of getting sidetracked.
- It takes more time to do something when you multitask, not less. Multitasking is inefficient.
- It becomes easier to make mistakes when you’re trying to do several things simultaneously – you don’t pay attention to what really matters.
- Multitasking increases stress levels.
- Multitaskers inevitably favor new information over old – even when the new information is of lower value.
The simple truth is while distractions are natural and are to be expected, multitasking doesn’t work. It does not boost performance – in fact, multitasking definitively introduces more distractions which undermine results. If you buy into the myth that you can do two or more things at once, problems lie ahead.
“To do two things at once is to do neither.”
– Publilius Syrus
“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.”