Multitasking Makes You Stupid

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Hewlett Packard completed a study of their employees a few years ago and discovered the average worker’s functioning IQ drops ten points when multitasking. That’s more than double the four point drop that occurs when someone smokes marijuana. A ten point drop in IQ is the equivalent to missing one night of sleep.


It never feels like you have enough time to get your stuff done.
You feel overwhelmed…more and more to do every time you turn around.
Sometimes you just want to scream.
And if you don’t multitask…how will you get it all done?

Stop multitasking today and get things done faster than you believe possible.Multitasking actually slows you down.

I am the queen of multitasking.  One of my proudest moments, when I worked in Corporate America, was having my boss tell me how amazing I was at doing so much at once.  I could be entering something on the computer, talking to someone on the phone, and still respond to something he said across the room.  BUT

Multitasking actually decreases productivity.  Tony Schwartz, author of “Be Excellent at Anything,” took a look at multitasking for the Harvard Business Review blog.  He determined that our need to multitask is causing us to get less done.  Because you are only partially engaging in each activity, they each take, on average, an addition 25% to complete. It also decreases your available energy so you have less and less available as the day goes by.

Still, we multitask because it makes us feel good.  We FEEL like we are getting all kinds of stuff done, right?!?!

Researcher Zhen Wang said if we do several things at once, we often get a greater feeling of satisfaction….we feel efficient. They also found that because multitaskers “look” really efficient, others have a strong desire to also appear efficient.

Multitasking also…

  • Takes away the enjoyment we may experience from being completely present with the task at hand.
  • Decreases the quality of what you are working on.
  • Increases stress levels.
  • Greater risk for burn out.
  • More difficult to relax, even when you are not working.

When multitasking, your brain…

  • Doesn’t focus on all activities you are doing at the same time.
  • Splits the brain so it’s just frantically switching between the activities you are trying to do at once, but not effectively.
  • Can’t effectively filter out irrelevant information.
  • Decreases our overall memory skills.

“Multitasking makes you stupid.” – Michele Bergh Click Here to Tweet

I definitely notice, when I tackle one task at a time, I actually feel better.  I feel calmer.  I get a sense of accomplishment when I complete a task. When exploring this concept in Marcus Buckingham’s book, Find Your Strongest Life, others in our group reported feeling the same things when they practiced doing one thing at a time instead of multitasking.  Here are some tips that I’ve found to be helpful {although breaking this long-standing habit is a challenge}:

  • Reduce the number of browser tabs open/visible.  I will often minimize my browser and open a new one that only has the task I’m working on visible.
  • A good to-do list, handy at all times to cross tasks off when complete and add tasks when I think of a new one.
  • I really like to go through my to-do list each night and select the 3 or 4 tasks I know I need to complete so I have a specific place to start the next day.
  • Getting up and moving around for a bit to get a new perspective and regain focus.
  • Listening to music while you work. There is a different area of our brain that listens to music so it isn’t really multitasking and can be quite helpful.

Multitasking takes away from your ability to live your best life…to live your strongest life.  To find out more on how to live your strongest life today, click here.

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