Here's the science from BrainFacts.org:
Whenever you need to pay attention, an area toward the front of the brain called the prefrontal cortex springs to action. This area, which spans the left and right sides of the brain, is part of the brain’s motivational system. It helps to focus your attention on a goal and coordinates messages with other brain systems to carry out the task. While the right and left sides of the prefrontal cortex work together when focused on a single task, the sides work independently when people attempt to perform two tasks at once.
Researcher Etienne Koechlin who studied the brain's behavior mentioned above says that although we can easily switch between two tasks, “we might be in great trouble when we try to juggle more than two tasks, simply because we have only two frontal lobes.”
There is also evidence that it can take your brain 15 to 25 minutes to get back to where it was after stopping to check email. I'd say that zaps your productivity big time!
Multi-tasking Makes You Stupid
No kidding. There is scientific evidence that multitasking, or task-switching, lowers your I.Q. Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London studied 1,100 workers at a British company and found that multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or losing a night’s sleep. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.
A study out of Stanford University confirms this too. Researchers compared multi-taskers to single-taskers and found that the single-taskers performed better on their tests. Psychology researcher, Anthony Wagner summed it up. “When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal. That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”
Be a Quitter! Stop Multitasking and Make Some Money
Productivity expert, Vanessa Loder, offers in Forbes magazine some simple steps to losing the multitasking mindset (and no it doesn't include smoking a joint!). She calls it a "power hour" that includes working in 20 minute intervals on one thing that is separated by moments of rest and simple movement or stretching. Rinse and repeat for each task or project you're working on. Loder also says to be careful of To-Do lists. Limit your list 3 things to accomplish in one day. In this case, quality over quantity rules the day.
Men Do it Better than Women
Women entrepreneurs tend to want to do it all. They have a hard time letting go. It could be something in our DNA carried over from our ancestors or a cultural thing, but women (me included) think we have something to prove. My husband is great at doing one thing. He focuses all of his energy on whatever task he's working on. Yes, I admit, it can drive me crazy sometimes. But, whatever he is working on gets done and he feels self-assured and proud of his efforts. Me, on the other hand, if I need to go to the store, for example, first I will stop and empty the dishwasher, clean the counters, put a wash in and fold some laundry before I ever walk out the door! This makes me feel overwhelmed, tired and frustrated.Yes, I got it done, but I'm no happier for it.
In business, if you are trying to run your day-to-day operations, make sales calls and post on social media all at once, not only will you be depleted and have nothing left for yourself or your loved ones, but mistakes will be made that can jeopardize your business. In the video above, Founder and CEO of eWomenNetwork, Sandra Yancey, says it's time to quit trying to multitask. It is not a badge of honor. In fact trying to multitask can adversely affect your bottom line.
Sandra teaches her SOAR clients that you should only do the things that make the cash register ring. No one makes it alone. Ask for help. Hire someone else to do your social media. Get a maid. Hire an intern to help you organize your papers. Simply put, delegate, delegate, delegate.