Being busy does not mean being productive, or why multitasking is not just bad, but outright dangerous?
Our society is suffering from the “scatterbrain syndrome“. It pervades everywhere – from the workplace to domestic life.
This is what Dr Christine Carter said after being admitted in hospital due to a nervous breakdown caused by overworking.
Dr Carter is CEO of Greater Good Science Centre at Berkeley University, Calfornia. She has to stay in hospital, although she herself is the “happiness expert” in campus, BBC says.
Being and looking busy, she says, shows importance – a notion that serves obsolete work ethics, just like the myth that the longer you stay in the office, the better employee you are.
Carter describes the consequencs of the indistrialisation bloom era as a kind of hangover.
Only the myth above is no longer true due to the simple fact that once, leaving the office, you left work; while nowadays, you may leave the office, but email, phones and laptops are still with you.
A more complex working process leaves a lot of impact, she says. Technology changes our brains in such a way that we become addicted to interruption, impatient to receive the next alert for an email, chat message or some social networking site update.
Our brain was not made for multitasking. Indulging in such an activity can lead to higher stress levels, depression and generally lower intellectual capacity.
“Multitasking encourages oversimplified thinking, crushes creativity, results in more errors and robs us of our ability to filter unnecessary information”, says to BBC Dr Sandra Bond Chapman, founder and Chief Director of the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas.
The media quotes a 2007 research which established that science workers tend to be distracted every 3 minutes by emails, or other factors.
This badly reduces their overall abilty to complete whtever they have to complete. So, a company with 50 000 employees would lose about $1 billion due to low creativity, errors abd burnout.
In our everyday lives distraction is everywhere – emails, messages, notifications, meetings, colleagues requiring help – the list can go on forever.
Many companies actually do encourage us to juggle various tasks and activities simultaneously, to create open working spaces were improvised conversation closely accompanies actual work – thus making us reconcile activities that are completely different in nature.
But still more and more surveys show that multitasking means lower productivity. It turns out, we can get much more done if we concentrate one one thing at a time.
The reason is that our brain is fit to cope with tasks one by one; when we force it to combine tasks, it keep switching from one task to the other. This causes weariness and lowers our cognitive skills.