Multi-Tasking Is Bad For You

Posted on August 31, 2013

Any job posting that describes an ideal candidate as a multi-tasker should never be applied for. Just like being called hard working should be considered an insult, so should multi-tasking. In the book, The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done, the author has an excellent exercise to demonstrate how much time you actually lose while trying to do two or more things at once.

Multi-Tasking Exercise

You’ll need a piece of paper, pen/pencil and a stopwatch (most cell phones have a stopwatch app).

  1. Time yourself writing out “Multi-tasking does not help me live a balanced life” and alternate between numbering the letters. Like this: M1 u2 l3…
  2. Now time yourself writing out “Multi-tasking does not help me live a balanced life” and then write out the corresponding numbers underneath it. Like this:

M u l…

1  2 3…

How much faster were you the second time? Now imagine how much time you waste trying to switch your brain from thinking about more complex challenges than just writing out a simple sentence and counting.

Getting in the habit of multi-tasking damages you in more ways than lost time, it trains your brain to never concentrate on one thing at a time so you don’t truly know how to ever ‘live in the moment’.

How has multi-tasking hurt, or helped, you?



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  • Ben Nesvig

    Completely agree, though I want to believe the opposite so bad. There is no such thing as multi tasking only switching tasks quickly, which dramatically slows things down since there is a cost to switching.

    If you have 50 free minutes, this is a great video on the topic: