An email dropped into your inbox, a text message came in on your phone, and another message showed up on Slack. Meanwhile, you've got plenty of tasks to get done, and you just heard about some interesting article that you really ought to read.
You're a multitasker. You can get it all done. But maybe you should be asking yourself if it helps to have your attention divided over so many different things. The answer is probably not. Multitasking is overrated, and here are some reasons why.
1. Distraction Vs. Focus
If you're multitasking, it can feel like you are getting a whole lot done in a day, and this can make you feel like you're really accomplishing a lot. The truth is, all you're doing is distracting yourself by doing little bits and pieces of a whole project. If you stop the multitasking and allow yourself to focus on one thing, you can really see it through to the end and make sure you've made all the steps correctly.
2. Speed Vs. Accuracy
Multitasking allows you to finish a lot of things very quickly, but it can seriously impede your ability to do them correctly. This can lead to a situation where you're getting plenty done, but because of the lack of focus, you just aren't doing things correctly. This usually means that you'll have to circle back around and do them again, which actually slows you down! In general, it's a better idea to take the time, cut the distractions, and do things right the first time. Multitasking just doesn't help with that.
3. Overwhelmed Vs. Flow State
The push toward multitasking also comes with a side effect: it can be very easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of things that are expected of you. If you're expected to be doing everything at once, how can you possibly live up to that expectation? It's much better to be in a state of flow with your work. You can be focused, you can pay attention to one thing, and you can do that thing correctly. If you're in a state of flow, you're going to do well at what you do, and you're not going to feel overwhelmed by it.
Overall, we get it. Work is becoming increasingly fast-paced, and everyone wants someone who can multitask. But really, multitasking is overrated, often leads to bad work, and generally makes for a difficult working environment. Instead, aim to do work you love and maintain a state of flow while you’re doing it.