5 Ways Multitasking Is Hurting Your Motivation

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It seems like everyone is living a fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle these days, and we all try to cram in as many things as possible in one day. That sometimes means attempting to do more than one thing at a time in an attempt to get more done. However, our contributor, Chelsea Jackson of Hazel + Scout, is here today to let you know that multitasking is not always the best way to check things off of a to-do list. In fact, multitasking can actually hurt your motivation. Find out more about this and some tips on how to be the most productive when you have a long list of things to do.

Picture this: It’s Monday morning and you sit down at your computer with a hot cup of coffee in hand, motivated and ready to take on the day. Your inbox is teeming with things to sort out, your best friend is sending rapid-fire Facebook messages, you have a work assignment due and you really want to watch just one more YouTube video. You’re nothing if not a great multitasker so you dive in and tackle it all at once. Doing everything at the same time is the best use of your morning, right? Wrong.

Multitasking: It’s a wonderful resume buzzword, women are supposed to be naturals at it and, overall, it’s something that we seem to strive for as we navigate our busy days…but is it actually hurting you? Having too many tabs open, either on your computer or in your mind, can be seriously damaging to a healthy sense of motivation. We live in an era that glorifies the state of being busy and a lot of us (whether you work in the online space or you’re a passive scroller) are spending our time rapidly switching between tasks, distractions and social media without really absorbing anything. In an age when doing one task at a time can feel indulgent or downright reckless, fractured attention is becoming an epidemic and it’s probably hindering you from accomplishing your goals.

Keep scrolling for five reasons you need to dial back media multitasking to make the most of your motivation…

1. Quality Over Quantity.

I’m a serial multitasker, and oftentimes, I find myself too crippled by all of the things I’m missing out on (looking at the newest arrivals of the season, replying to emails, etc.) to actually work through the motivation to get things done. Instead of putting my head down and focusing my attention on a task, I often work on all of this at once. Sound familiar? Multitasking is not actually raising our productivity but instead, it’s making it harder for us to integrate information and keep it all straight. While it may seem like we can do it all, our brains are actually struggling to keep up and we’re  compromising the quality of our time by taking on too much.

The most important factor in lessening the effects of multitasking backlash is to recognize that it’s not the best use of your time and work on concentrating on one thing to the best of your ability.

2. Get Your Priorities Straight.

There’s a difference between multitasking and effective prioritizing. When you do a lot of different things at once (like talking on the phone while writing a blog post, for example), you experience that “burnt out” feeling a lot faster than if you had tackled the important things first and left time for fun later. Brain fatigue is real and it’s really debilitating if it becomes a habit.

Have you tried bullet journaling? Or Asana? Explore the best way to prioritize projects and come up with a system that works for you.

3. Stressing Out.

Switching tabs often is putting your brain in a heightened level of stress. Because we have limited focus, we don’t have time to have emotional reflexes to the content we’re switching between and we often get stuck in a cycle of intellectual anxiety. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine even did a study that found employees with constant access to office email and a steady stream of new distractions stayed in “high alert” mode as opposed to their disconnected counterparts.

Anything you can do to limit your amount of stress is a step in the right direction of self-care. Try not to cram too many tasks into the same time slot, and instead, work on one thing at a time.

4. It’s Slowing You Down.

It might seem obvious, but you’re less likely to finish things in good time when you’re constantly switching between work and distractions. Even with simple tasks like driving and talking on the phone, research shows that people who multitask take longer to get to their final destinations. What presents itself as being efficient is actually slowing you down.

Do you often get sucked into your smartphone instead of focusing on what you’re meant to be doing? Apps like Forest help you monitor your screen time and hold yourself accountable.

5. We’re Not Made To Multitask.

While we’ve all heard the old anecdote about women being built to multitask, the human brain is not actually designed to handle a lot of things at once. In an age of instant gratification and frequent task-switching, we’re becoming accustomed to the little hits of dopamine that happen when we accomplish small feats (like sending an Evite or posting something new to Twitter). Because we’re addicted to that feel-good chemical, we’ve started incorporating more tasks into the same amount of hours, and although it feels like we’re accomplishing a lot, we’re slacking on bigger-picture concepts.

Recognize that you’re not actually a multitasking machine (I know, it was hard for me to admit, too) and take charge of all that motivation. Your Pinterest feed can wait!

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