Do you work more effectively when you are focused on one project or when you are working on several projects at once?
Do you gain or lose productivity when you multitask?
I have addressed this issue in several prior posts (here and here), arguing that the therapy culture seems to have invented “multitasking” because it did not know how to treat people who could not concentrate.
Lack of focus and concentration might be a function of depression or demoralization, or it might simply refer to people who used to be called scatterbrained.
By inventing the concept of multitasking and proclaiming it a valuable quality, the culture was trying to rebrand the problem and, thereby, by waving its magic verbal wand, to make it go away. Or better, to help you to feel good about it.
Now multitasking is going the way of other efforts to transform the culture by changing the way we label things. It is being done in by science.
Scientists have studied the efficiency of people who multitask and compared it with that of people who focus on one task at a time. They have discovered, as the New York Times’s Freakonomics blog reports, that people who multitask are less effective and less efficient. Link here.
The authors of the new study make one recommendation to help you to overcome your tendency to multitask: rigorous scheduling.
Organizing your time, dedicating chunks of time to single projects, and sticking with a project until you complete it… these will help you to work more effectively and more efficiently.