Real Talk: Why I Think Multitasking is Stupid

So at some point in my life, I genuinely thought that I was able to effectively and efficiently manage and master multiple tasks with laser accuracy in the same amount of time. When I break it down like that, it sounds soooooo crazy, however, so many of us take on multitasking ALL.THE.TIME. In essence, we’re trying to make the most of our time but we don’t realize that we’re actually kind of doing the opposite.

I’ve decided to give up multitasking for a few reasons. Number one, it’s been proven to lower a person’s IQ. While this is more common in men, it can still affect women. Idk about you, but I’d like not to lower my IQ at all. Nope. That’s a nah for me, dawg.

I’ve also discovered that regardless of how small the tasks are, it takes our brains time to shift from one task to the next. According to Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world’s leading experts on human cognition, attention and learning, “when we toggle between tasks, the process often feels seamless, but in reality, it requires a series of small shifts.” When your brain has to constantly engage in these small shifts, it comes at a cost. You may be sacrificing energy, accuracy, or even speed when you attempt to multitask.

I’ve come to learn that more tasks equate to more opportunities to make mistakes. I know that I’m not alone when I say that I’m not as precise when I’m multitasking. If the goal of multitasking is to be efficient with precision, it just doesn’t occur for me when I’m multitasking.

I have to say that it was not easy for me at all to kick multitasking to the curb. I was diagnosed with ADHD years ago and getting distracted & attempting to multitask is kind of how my brain is wired. It’s only natural for me. Although I am well aware that the integrity of my tasks suffer when I juggle more than one, it’s so common for me to fall into the trap of thinking that I can handle multiple things at once. It would be an understatement to say that it’s challenging for me to have laser focus on one task, but alas I strive for it. It’s by no stretch easy, but it is doable.  

I recently read a book called The ONE Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. The premise of the book is that you focus only on one task. It’s not just any old task though. After identifying your end goal and the steps needed to get there, isolate the highest leverage task that’s really going to move the needle. The idea of The ONE Thing is similar to the domino effect, where if you tackle the highest-leverage task each day, over time it has a profound impact on your goal.  

It’s not easy for me to give up multitasking. I am moving in the direction of monotasking, which is exactly what it sounds like – working on one task. And I’m marrying it to the concept of batchworking. If you don’t know what batchworking is, it’s when you block out a substantial amount of time for one particular type of task, or tasks that are similar to each other and just hammering that shit out.  

And it’s hard.  

It is not easy. It is exhausting, however, when you finish your batchworking, you come out of it with SO MUCH DONE. The feeling is really really invigorating. Just to be aggravating to be super transparent, I am not fully, 100% there just yet. I am still struggling to have the perfect marriage between monotasking and batchworking. I am trying to make it a habit so that I can be more efficient.

Sometimes I take on more than I should but, I realize that working on one thing at a time is the most productive way for me to work. Are you a hardcore multitasker who does not intend to give it up for the world? What’s your rationale? If you’ve joined the monotasking club, how’s it going for you??

What are your thoughts on this post?

  1. Old Man Jo says:

    This reminds me of meditation in principle, which, if I remember accurately, means “just sitting”.

    • Elle Jupiter says:

      That’s such a beautiful way of thinking about it! In essence, everything that we do should be meditative in nature. Thanks for sharing that insightful idea!

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