Our classmates, friends, and acquaintances have repeatedly told us that multitasking is a “gift” and that having it is “a matter of pride.” Since multitasking helps boost job efficiency and production, many organizations need their employees to be multitaskers. In reality, company leaders use the aid of experts to train and empower workers to multitask more effectively.
The capacity to multitask is regularly commended even in ordinary society as a speedy technique to complete more activities in less time. However, new research has shown that multitasking is a problem. “You can’t multitask because our brains are wired to do just one cognitively demanding thing at a time, and we tell ourselves we’re multitasking when what we’re really doing is task-switching, rapidly shifting from one thing to another,” says a neuroscience professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Our minds falter as we toggle, trying to remember where we were and what we were doing.
To further explain, consider the scenario of moving between an Excel sheet and email writing. A matching neural network is activated while working on an Excel sheet (task one). When we shift our attention to the second job of drafting an email, the brain must halt the previously active circuit, boosting the neural network relating to the new task. It takes more time to switch mental gears between goals, turn off the old task’s cognitive rules, and turn on the new rules for the new task, which is a form of cognitive control.
Ways to prevent multitasking
According to research, it often takes 25 minutes to return to the original work after switching, a phenomenon known as the “25-Minute Trap.” The best approach to escape this “cognitive trap” is to employ the “Pomodoro method,” a time-management technique that involves 35 minutes of intense work followed by five to ten minutes of rest. One can take a short stroll, talk to friends or loved ones, eat, drink, listen to music, close their eyes, and meditate during the five to ten-minute break. The goal is to unwind and recharge before beginning a new job. To finish on time, one can also create a well-organized schedule and adhere to the list of duties. By doing so, you can improve cognitive control, increase productivity, and significantly cut down on workplace mistakes.
Finally, we must recognize that multitasking is akin to being a “jack of all trades, master of none”! Monotasking will boost your emotional intelligence, creativity, executive functions, and cognitive abilities. Therefore, it is important to promote monotasking or sticking with one activity until it is finished before moving on to another so that the brain has enough time to transition its focus completely and maintain optimal cognitive control.