A Broad Argument Against Multitasking

Firm News | June 21, 2013

It is a common belief that multitasking is a way to get more done in a limited amount of time. In reality, multitasking can be inefficient and, when done in the wrong situations, dangerous. Distracted driving accidents are just one area where the myth of multitasking is causing harm. Pedestrians also suffer elevated accident rates when they engage in texting, chatting or other tasks that take their attention away from getting safely to where they are going. The ability to focus your attention on a single task and do so until it is complete is highly valuable. That is true for almost every activity you do, including driving.

The fundamental problem with multitasking is that when people believe they are completing several tasks, they are really just switching inefficiently from one task to another. This leads to wasted time in transition and to mistakes. Doing a poor job of three tasks at once is not better than doing each task well and then moving on when that task is done. When it comes to driving, when a driver is texting or even using a hands-free device, that driver is not actually driving. They are behind the wheel of a vehicle, but they are doing something else.

One group of experts estimated that multitasking leads to a 40 percent reduction in productivity. Studies have suggested that texting or talking on your phone causes the same reduction in your ability to drive safely as driving drunk. Hands-free devices do not improve the situation. Your mind will either be on completing a phone call or on safe driving, never both.

To protect yourself and improve your productivity, organize your life so you can complete one task at a time. It will save you time, improve your health and save you a host of problems.

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