Despite the fact that psychologists and experts keep on saying that multitasking is less productive than doing one thing at a time, people still think they’re the exception to the rule. The truth is that multitasking is very complicated, with some experts claiming that it doesn’t even exist in the first place.
According to Popular Science, psychologists believe the right term for multitasking is rapid task switching. This process occurs every time you stop doing something in order to pay attention to something else, like when you’re watching a movie and answer a text on your phone. Paying equal amounts of attention to different tasks is very difficult, especially when they demand some thought.
Real life studies show that workplace interruptions cost around $650 billion dollars a year, and that’s only in the U.S.. These “interruptions” can be anything from receiving a phone call in the middle of your work day to having a conversation with your coworker. According to the University of California, it takes an average of 25 minutes for a person to get back to a task once they’ve been distracted, so distractions have a real effect and cost in productivity.
As a rule, the more you’re interrupted and the more you get distracted, the larger cost it has on your productivity. The situation changes when you’re doing things that are more intuitive, such as working out and listening to music. In this case, tests show that a distraction actually helps people work out more vigorously.
In order to boost your productivity, cognitive scientist Jim Davies suggests splitting your day in half hour chunks. Spend your half hours doing only one thing, without checking emails, accepting phone calls, or getting distracted. When done correctly, this method allows you to accomplish several things throughout your day, avoiding boredom and making you feel productive.