If you ask most people, they will tell you multitasking makes them more productive…
According to David Meyer, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, juggling between several tasks could make you lose up to 40% of your productivity!
A study carried out by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London titled “Multitasking makes us stupid ” goes even further to say that switching from one electronic task to another leads to an even greater decrease in IQ than smoking cannabis!
So does this mean that you should only work on a single task at a time to be productive? Yes and no.
Studies warning against multitasking are often based on task switching, in other words, the juggling between several tasks.
However, multitasking when it is defined as accomplishing two tasks at the same time is not always detrimental to our productivity!
A 2015 study by researchers at the University of Florida even showed that it could help improve our performance.
In the research, participants were asked to sit on exercise bikes and pedal at a speed they found comfortable for 2 minutes.
After the 2 minutes passed, they pedaled again with a screen in front of them that presented 12 different cognitive tests at varying levels of difficulty for them to complete.
Then, they were asked to complete the same 12 different cognitive tests while being seated in a chair.
The result was that not only did the participants not do any worse on the tests when they were on the bike, but they also pedaled 25% faster!
Multitasking had no serious effects on their cognitive function. Even better, it improved their physical performance.
So what can we conclude from this?
Multitasking will help you be more productive as long as you’re not performing tasks that require the same cognitive resources. For example, it will be difficult to write an email while simultaneously talking to someone because both actions use the same cognitive resource.