by Kathie England

Multitasking – Help or Hindrance?

Do you feel like you’re getting more done when you’re multitasking?

If you answered “yes”, you may want to rethink your perspective.

An article in the newest Harvard Business Review (March 2013) shows that multitasking is counterproductive. Data gathered by a software tool called RescueTime contrasted a day’s worth of computer use by two workers. One worker changed focus infrequently. The other worker constantly shifted between activities. The result: the more switching, the less accomplished. Take a look at the data in the link to this article:

Older studies have provided similar data to this new research:

  • The tendency to stop and start a task can increase the time required to complete a task by as much as 500%.
  • Focusing on one task until completed can reduce the time it takes to complete the task by as much as 50%.

A study conducted in 2001 by the American Psychological Association found that we lose time when switching from one task to another. The lost time increases with more complex tasks. Our brain doesn’t really do two tasks at the same time. It toggles between tasks and the more toggling, the more time that’s lost.

Are you getting less done than you think?