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  • Writer's pictureStanton Willins

The Myth of Multi-Tasking

Fact: Computers are great at multitasking, and people are not.

Yet somewhere along the way, you were tricked into believing that you can process information like a computer and should embrace multitasking. Maybe a higher-up assigned you to multiple workstreams and suggested that you "multitask." We wouldn't be surprised if that same task master also told you to "sleep faster"!

What you need to remember is that the human brain doesn't actually multitask consciously. At least not in the true sense of the word. A more accurate description would be that it quickly jumps from one stream of consciousness to another, much like a series of agile sprints.

Although, what may not be obvious is that there's a real mental toll each time you switch between workstreams.

Your brain is not a computer and can't just stop thinking about one thing and instantaneously be prepared with all the new information for the completely unrelated new set of tasks.

Many studies were done showing how multitasking impairs a person’s working memory, causing anxiety, as well as impacting the quality of the work being produced.

To help illustrate the point, think of your brain like a phone. Then imagine that every time you wanted to switch to the next streaming video you needed to close the app and log back on. Clearly, that would not be a very efficient way to work….but it might just stop you from endlessly scrolling through YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels late at night!

So, the next time you think about multitasking, save yourself the exhaustion, take a pause, stretch, and finish what you were working on first. For those cases where you can’t avoid juggling multiple workstreams, maybe carve out large stretches of time for each so there are fewer transitions (i.e. interruptions in your flow). And if that doesn’t work, just hire a consultant to help.


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