Multi-Tasking Makes Us Less Productive

Do you find yourself doing multiple tasks at the same time? We’re probably all guilty of multi-tasking at one time or another, and perhaps even more so as the holiday season ramps up.

We may think having the ability to multi-task requires skill and may serve us well, but that’s not the case. Based on studies, when we multi-task we need to “switch gears” which actually takes time, and we may be paying insufficient attention to both tasks which results in higher error rates. In addition to errors, how we feel is impacted. Stress levels are known to increase as comprehension and levels of focus lessen.

Kendra Cherry, author and education consultant, defines multi-tasking as:

·         Working on two or more tasks simultaneously
·         Switching back and forth from one thing to another
·         Performing a number of tasks in rapid succession

She reports that:

1.    Multi-tasking hampers productivity
2.    Multi-tasking is distracting
3.    Multi-tasking slows you down
4.    Multi-tasking impairs executive function
5.    Multi-taskers make mistakes


  • If multiple tasks are pending, use the “20 minute rule” (stick to each task for at least 20 minutes)
  • Batch and schedule tasks similar to one another to better manage the change of focus
  • Limit distractions (turn off your phone and ignore incoming emails)
  • Practice mindfulness to remain focused and pay attention to one thing at a time

Even if we think we’re skilled multi-taskers and that Ms. Cherry’s findings don’t apply to us, a study by Stanford University, found that multi-tasking takes a toll on mental health, adds stress to our daily life, and harms our productivity, motivation, mood, and many more.

Can you commit to actioning only one task at a time, or minimally follow the “20 minute rule”? We’re willing to try!


Mike and Jan

Multi-tasking results in a division of attention that can sometimes result
in confusion, stress, and anxiety.
— Dr Sanjay Kumavat