Is it better to focus on one task at a time, or maximise your time by performing two or more tasks simultaneously?
Several researches have helped provide insights into each method and with an understanding of both, you might decide to work differently in the future.
- Conserves energy
- Increases commitment
- Promotes self-discipline
- Improves attention span
- Highly underrated and looked down upon by employers
- Lack the ability to be spontaneous
- Task may loose its interest
- Finishes more tasks within an 8-hour workday
- The ability to switch between different projects can stimulate creativity
- Keeps you from being bored
- Teaches you to manage vacant time productively
- Diminishes focus
- Require constant reminder of what to do
- Results in low overall daily productivity
So, which is better?
The truth is, your brain is not designed to do more than one thing at a time. For example, when you are driving while talking on the phone, your brain can either use its resources to drive or to talk on the phone, but never both. Scans show that when you talk on the phone, there is limited activation of your visual brain – suggesting you are driving without really watching. This explains why Malaysian law is strict when it comes to driving while talking on the phone.
Frequently switching between tasks overloads the brain and makes you less efficient. It’s a formula for failure in which your thoughts remain on the surface level and errors occur more frequently.
Our final verdict
Sadly, to this day, we still see job descriptions that list multitasking as a preferred or required skill. Thankfully, many employers are gradually gaining awareness of the benefits of single-tasking as well.
However, a thorough understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of both skills is the key to using them appropriately. The best way to complete your tasks is to focus on the most important and time-consuming tasks first.
Short tasks can easily be completed and usually do not require intense concentration. This avoids wasting time going back and forth on different tasks. However, this is not an absolute rule, as there are several other factors that come to play. Factors such as work habits and work ethic should be considered, as well as the nature of the job as a whole.