Multitasking Doesn’t Work – Do This One Powerful Thing Instead

Science has shown that multitasking doesn’t work. Humans are wired to do one thing at a time. If we try to multitask, that puts additional load on our brains and we perform worse than if we’d just do one thing at a time.

That may not seem true when you’re at work and think you’re killing it when you’re checking email and making phone calls and working on that project that’s due by end of day and chatting with your co-worker – all at the same time.

But, it’s true, you’d get much more done if you’d just focus on each of those one at a time.

That’s because what you consider multitasking is just task switching. You’re still only doing literally one thing at a time, but just putting additional strain on your brain as you quickly move back and forth between them. It’s an inefficient use of your brain’s power and wiring.

True Multitasking

But there is a true form of multitasking and it can be a game changer in your life and productivity.

This is where you kick off processes that run on their own as you move onto other things.

You can do this with basic day-to-day things in your life as well as more long-term processes. Some examples are in order.

Short-Term Examples of True Multitasking

Let’s apply true multitasking to getting through our morning routine.

You get up, wake the kids up and instruct them to start their morning routine. They’re now up and start their routine – go to the bathroom, get dressed and brush teeth. You’ve kicked off one process. As the kids are getting ready, you move onto the next processes.

You move onto letting the dog out. Now as the kids are getting ready, the dog is outside doing its business. Two processes are running simultaneously.

As the kids are getting ready and the dog is doing its business, you throw on the coffee maker. Now three processes are running – look how much you’re getting done at the same time!

While that’s all happening, you get dressed. Four processes are now running.

All the while, you’re mono-tasking which is the most efficient way our brains work but are kicking off other processes which is true multitasking.

This is more efficient and less stressful than the alternative:

The kids are standing around in the morning because you haven’t given them direction, the dog is scratching at the door to be let out but you’re still trying to get dressed. You finally let the dog out and then tend to turning on the coffee maker. That all wastes time and isn’t as smooth and graceful as true multitasking.

Long-Term Examples of True Multitasking

We can apply this to long-term processes as well.

The money that is pulled out of your paycheck and put into your 401k is growing in the market as you’re living your life and doing other things. You kicked off that process by signing up for your work’s 401(k).

Same thing with the interest that is compounding on your savings account. You kicked off the process by opening an account and depositing money and then interest grows automatically.

How Many Processes Can You Kick Off at the Same Time?

How many processes can you kick off at the same time? Try it.

If kicking off processes is difficult to you, start small. Try kicking off one process and then doing something else. For example, start a load of laundry and then make dinner while it’s running. That way, it’ll be ready for you to put it into the dryer after you’re done eating. Big time saver.

Then try doing three processes at the same time – kick off laundry, start dinner and then call a family member or friend on the phone while dinner is cooking and the washer is running.

Keep working your way up until you get 5, 7 or even 10 processes going. That may seem crazy to you but it works. They can be the smaller day-to-day processes or the longer-term ones like we described above. It really increases your productivity and decreases your stress.

Jason Howe

Jason Howe is the founder of Man the Ship.