When an interviewer asks what a person’s greatest strength is, one possible answer is that they are able to multitask. Most people believe they can effectively multitask but they are actually doing more harm to themselves than good. When someone is being very productive and completing multiple things at once, they normally are actually just very good at working on one thing at a time very quickly, as only 2.5% of the population can actually multitask with any skill.
Instead of being twice as productive, the multitasker is less likely to produce high-quality work and leads to more confusion. Researchers believe that rather than being on a higher level than a mono-tasker, multitaskers are actually rewiring their brains and making it more difficult for them to concentrate on one thing at a time.
In our modern world, technology has given everyone the illusion of being a multitasker because we’re able to work on multiple screens at the same time. When you’re at home, you could be writing a report with the television on, and also be checking your phone periodically. The distractions of the television and phone will limit the quality of the report you’re trying to complete and also will take you longer than without them. It can even be dangerous to multitask, as texting and driving have been known to be a dangerous example of multitasking that can result in injury and even death.
While at work, one of the biggest distractions and illusions of multitasking is email. Typically, a person will check their email at several points throughout the day so they can respond quickly and stay on top of their tasks. Unfortunately, checking email frequently can lead to an unproductive day and research also shows that this constant habit could be decreasing your IQ. The best way to counteract this effect is by limiting the number of times throughout the day that you check your email and taking more control of your day.
Aside from being unproductive, attempting to multitask can make it more difficult for you to get back on track with your work and focusing throughout the day. Although it may seem like a great way to take charge and be in control of your day, taking on several projects or tasks will actually lead to a less productive day.