Multi-tasking is more efficient, right? Get more done in less time. Brilliant! Contrary to popular belief, this could not be more wrong. Despite giving the illusion of efficiency and productivity, countless studies have demonstrated that performing several tasks simultaneously actually decreases productivity and results in each individual task being performed at a lower quality output.
Until very recently I was a chronic multi-tasker. I would read the news in the morning while emailing at the same time. I would talk on the phone while scanning websites, browse contracts while at the same time painting my nails. Research however suggests that the brain cannot perform more than one task at a time efficiently. The brain suffers when we begin to perform more than one complex task at the same time. Contrary to popular belief therefore, people are actually less efficient when they multitask. The reason? It takes more time to complete one of the tasks, especially when they become more complex, versus focusing on a single task.
Since making this realisation, it is amazing how much less stressed I feel about things. I would be half way through a crucial task, get interrupted by an email then desperately try to juggle both the original task and responding to the email at the same time. My stress levels whilst operating on this basis were sky high. Now, when I am concentrating on one important task that I know I have to complete, I focus and do it until it is completed. No disruptions, no juggling tasks, no multitasking. One thing at a time. Slowly, but thoroughly. My output has increased ten-fold and now that I am accomplishing tasks earlier, I have more free time to do the things that bring me pleasure and the beauty of it is, I can enjoy away without also trying to do ten other things at the same time.
Do yourself a favour and concentrate on one single thing at a time. Do that until completion, then move on. You will be amazed at how much lighter you feel.