Does multitasking have any benefits or does it just cause unnecessary stress? You might be surprised to learn that research shows both sides of the argument have some validity! Keep reading to find out whether multitasking can actually improve your life and make you more productive or if it just adds to the things that can go wrong when you try to do too much at once.

To determine whether multitasking is good or bad, it’s best to first understand what it is. As Merriam-Webster defines it, multitasking is performing more than one task at a time. Many people commonly refer to any activity done at the same time as multitasking. For example, you might be checking your email while shopping online for shoes. You’re engaging in two separate tasks—reading and buying—simultaneously. If you have a lot of simple tasks you need to accomplish, it’s tempting to try to work on multiple things at once in order to save time.

Real World Examples of Multitasking

This may come as a surprise, but frequent multitasking is actually very natural. Even when we’re sitting still and working on something, there are things going on in our brains that enable us to multitask. Here are a few everyday examples of things we do that can be considered multitasking:

  • Listening to music while studying or working.
  • Multitasking on a conference call, taking notes while someone else is speaking.
  • Scrolling through social media while watching TV.

The Benefits of Multitasking

There are many benefits of multitasking, like being able to accomplish more than one thing at a time. Being able to listen to your teacher while taking notes and writing down information is just one way that you can utilize multiple tasks. People who multi-task also tend to be better at filtering out distractions in order to focus on one specific task. This means that they may finish tasks faster and be more productive as a result. Good multitaskers are able to handle multiple tasks at a time and can switch from one task to another easily.

Saving Time

One of the biggest benefits of multitasking is saving time. When you are able to multitask, it allows you to be more efficient with your time. In fact, some people say that they can get twice as much done by multitasking than if they were doing one thing at a time.

Increasing Productivity

For those who consider themselves professionals and work for long periods of time, multitasking can be good for increasing productivity. With a number of different things to do in one day, working on a few things at once can help you finish projects quicker.

Negative Impacts of Multitasking

For some people, multitasking can actually have negative effects on productivity and creativity. Studies have shown that some multitaskers have a more difficult time filtering out irrelevant

information and focusing on what’s important. While it might be tempting to multitask, this is one of the reasons why multitasking isn’t always a good idea. If you are someone who struggles to focus and you may want to be productive, you might end up getting more done by focusing on single tasks.

Not Focusing on the Task at Hand

Research has consistently shown that multitasking oftentimes isn’t all it’s cracked up to be—and doing it can actually have a negative impact on your productivity by impairing your ability to effectively complete a task. Try sticking to one thing at a time when you feel tempted to multitask on important activities. You may be surprised by how much more thorough and productive you can be.

Not Paying Attention to Important Tasks or Details

Let’s face it: multitasking might be good for getting more done in a shorter amount of time, but it can negatively affect how well you do those things. If you’re working on a complex project with critical details, then it’s probably best to pay attention and not multitask.

In summation, multitasking can often be a great exercise to save time, increase productivity, and  efficiently complete simple tasks. However, for tasks with higher complexity, it can be detrimental to multitask because you’ll be less effective and meticulous while performing the tasks. In today’s world, it’s very easy to multitask. While there is no harm in multitasking once in a while, sometimes it’s important to remember to focus on one thing at a time for more demanding tasks, where the stakes are high and accuracy is crucial.
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