Rethinking Productivity

Multitasking can decrease your productivity.

Multitasking might seem like an important skill to master for a career in business. After all, the average workplace has become fast-paced and tech-driven, leaving many professionals expecting instant replies to emails and inquiries. Therefore, it makes sense that we have Internet browsers constantly displaying numerous tabs, a cellphone at the ready, and a chat window open. Yet, a number of studies reveal that multitasking hinders productivity, accuracy and efficiency. Even the smallest distractions from the task at hand can increase the risk of making simple errors and delay work pace. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span in 2013 is four seconds less than it was in the year 2000. This drop puts our attention span below that of a goldfish. What does this change mean? It means most workers are struggling to remain focused and accomplish tasks efficiently, suggesting that we need to rethink how to be productive.

The Danger of Multitasking
Multitasking is a very specious act. Most of us feel accomplished when we multitask, because it seems as if we're getting a lot of work done at one time. From an outside perspective, colleagues that are focused on several projects at once appear to be accomplishing more work and demonstrating initiative. However, multitasking actually makes it difficult to optimally perform any one function, essentially challenging the brain to switch back and forth rapidly between disparate tasks. The best way to not only be productive but to create quality work is to focus on a singular task for a duration of time. This means shedding the desire to check your email 30 times an hour and to avoid accumulating an endless list of open browser tabs. 

Furthermore, productivity benefits from analyzing thought processes and personal learning preferences. Take the time to reflect on your workload and how to effectively complete it. If you're struggling with a specific task, take time to step back and consider what's causing the difficulty and the best way to ameliorate it. Make to-do lists and dedicate a duration of time to solely focus on an individual project. 

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online bachelor degree programs in business and online MBA programs. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_business

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