The Myth of Productive Multitasking

While most of us know that multitasking doesn’t really
work for anything but the simplest of tasks, many of
us don’t understand that this approach to work can be
actively destructive in a number of ways. For starters,
it actually reduces our productivity by about 40% and
lowers our IQ’s to the level of 8-year-olds!
In fact, when we think we’re “multitasking,” we’re not
really accomplishing multiple tasks at all, we’re just
toggling between assignments with only superficial

In LIFESCALE, I explore the many negative aspects of
multitasking (and there are a lot). Here three ways in
which trying to accomplish 2, 3, 4, or more things at
once is actually counterproductive.


  1. Wastes Time, Attention and Energy.
    While you may manage to produce some output, productivity, engagement, and value are usually compromised. The late Clifford Nass at Stanford University demonstrated in his research, people who multitask do not pay attention, memorize, or manage their tasks as well as individuals who focus on one thing at a time.
  2. Affects Your Memory.
    “Now where was I…” If you feel more distracted-fuzzy-in the middle of toggling between tasks, it’s because you are! And key studies have found that this practice not only makes you distracted, but it also impacts both your short- and long-term memory. Other studies have found that humping between tasks and giving in to interruptions makes you forget important details, both in the moment and as you continue to work.
  3. May damage your brain.
    Not only does multitasking lower IQ scores, but it also diminishes our capacity to feel! That’s right, studies indicate that this everyday practice is not only ineffective, but it may also leave us dead inside if practiced over a long period of time. Researchers from the University of Sussex used MRI scans to compare the brains of multitaskers and normal people. They discovered that multitaskers had less brain density in gray matter, specifically the anterior cingulate cortex, the area of our brains responsible for empathy. So multitasking probably reduces EQ as well as IQ scores, both of which are essential to professional success.

In LIFESCALE, I do more than point out the downside of multitasking, I offer exercises that have worked for me and countless others, techniques to help us prioritize our work and then tackle projects the right way-with intensity, focus and one at a time! When you try this “old-fashioned” approach, you’ll soon discover that you get more done in less time. And the quality of your work will soar.