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Despite what you’ve been told your entire life, the skill of multitasking is not something to aspire to. In fact, most of the people you know that are “multitaskers” aren’t that at all. They’re good at doing one thing at a time and switching quickly between them.
Newsflash, every time you try to juggle more than two tasks at a time you’re actually reducing your productivity by around 40%. Texting and watching Netflix is one thing, but to try and bounce between work tasks all at once is a whole different story.
Not only is multitasking bad for your productivity, it’s also going to make your anxiety worse. And nobody wants that. It’s true, according to a recent study, those who checked emails while trying to do other work looked significantly sadder than those who didn’t. Sadder, of course, is relative, but it says something if just reading an email looks like it can change your mood.
The only people that aren’t affected by those emails? People with high levels of neuroticism to begin with. For them, just the act of not checking emails makes them feel like they were experiencing some serious #FOMO, and by not multitasking it’s adding to their anxiety. You know you have anxiety when something that should add to anxiety just makes it worse.
So, what should you do instead?
I’m glad you asked. You can start by batching tasks. Oh, so multitasking? No, not quite, my friend. Batch tasks by what they’re meant to accomplish to keep your brain in the same mindset it was in when you started. Have a bunch of emails to read and write? Batch those babies together and take them one at a time. When you keep your brain in the same mindset between tasks, it’s a lot easier to jump from task to task. Just make sure you’re doing one at a time, you overachiever, you.
When you batch tasks, you also improve your mood, jumping from task to task forces your brain into a state of anxiety as it tries to rapidly adjust to the hoops you’re jumping it through.
The key to a healthy, productive day of getting shit done starts and ends with picking one task at a time, and shifting gears only when you’ve completed that task. Now, let’s get out there, turn off those email notifications, and continue to underachieve our way to greatness.
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