Is Multitasking Harming Your Productivity?

In high school, I rode the bus to and from school for a year. I loved the bus ride and the social time with other teenagers. On the bus, I often participated in multiple conversations at once. I attempted to listen and respond to two or three different subjects being discussed. Of course, I was fooling myself. In my effort to not miss out on anything, I was multitasking and actually missing quite a bit of each conversation.


Multitasking is when you try to accomplish two or more things at once that require mental concentration. Do you try to accomplish more by multitasking? Maybe you try to talk on the phone while you check your emails. Or, maybe you listen to a podcast while you catch up on your social media networking.

Did you know that multitasking actually leads to less productivity? According to Harvard Business Review, studies have found:

  • Multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity.
  • Multitaskers make up to 50% more errors.
  • Multitasking causes a 10% drop in IQ.

In actuality, the human brain can’t handle more than one task at a time. Even though we think we are doing two tasks, our brain is really switching back and forth between the tasks. In his book, Brain Rules, Brian Medina points out that it takes more time to get things done when you try to multitask. People who are interrupted—and therefore have to switch their attention back and forth—take 50% longer to accomplish a task.

So, how can you improve your productivity? Stop multitasking. Instead, chunk your tasks.

Chunking involves working on one thing at a time for short periods of time. Set aside time each day to do specific tasks. So, instead of constantly checking your email or social media sites while attempting to write a chapter in your next book or work on advertising text, plan to check email and social media a few times a day—maybe at 9:00am, 1:00pm, and 5:00pm. Decide to spend a limited amount of time on these tasks, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, then switch to another task that requires your attention.

Don’t waste precious time on multitasking. As an independently published author or small publisher, you wear many hats and have numerous tasks that you must accomplish each day. Instead of trying to do two or three things at once, spend highly concentrated time on specific tasks and you will find that you become more productive.

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