Why multitasking is a hoax

. 1 min read

Having realized so much about the world and how it works in my twenties I sometimes catch myself thinking everyone knows the things I know. But how do I know if they do? They haven't had the same experiences as I, nor have they read the same books, and not everyone has been subjected to the same cultural influences as I.

For example, I've known for years now that the thing people seemed to value in my youth, multitasking, is complete hogwash. I read about this in a book - and I regret to tell you I cannot remember at the moment which book it was - that your brain cannot fully concentrate on more than one thing at a time, and when you think you're doing two things at once you're really just switching your focus between them on a split-second rate. This continuous breaking of the focus burdens your mental capacities and you get less done in more time than if you finished one of them first completely and then did the other. Same applies for email notifications - you may be expected to be reachable at the workplace at all times, either by email or Skype or whatever new apps there may be, but most of the emails you get don't specifically concern you while they still catch your attention with the notification and thus break your focus on the task at hand. Getting back to it and regaining the focus can be done but you've lost valuable time while wrapping your head around where you were when you got distracted.

So don't try to do multiple things at once. And turn off the email notifications. And put Skype on "Do not disturb" mode. If you sit in a cubicle or have an open office layout of other sorts, put on headphones. If someone really needs you and you're not returning emails, they'll come to you and tap on your shoulder.