Most of us would not consider smoking marijuana while we work, but recent research has shown that multitasking at work causes a drop in your IQ more than twice that found when smoking marijuana. The IQ drop when multitasking is also equivalent to losing an entire night’s sleep. So even though you feel like you are getting more done by checking email during your meeting, you might want to reconsider. Aside from slowing you down, multitasking can have a negative impact on your health, quality of work, and quality of relationships.
Lost Time – It is estimated that an employee who multitasks loses an average of two hours each day. In 2003, the Wall Street Journal reported that “multitasking makes you stupid”. The Journal of Experimental Psychology found that people who multitask are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time, because managing two mental tasks at once reduces the brainpower available for either task. Multitasking at work has reached epidemic proportions. Experts estimate that employees of Fortune 1000 companies send and receive approximately 180 emails each day, and they are interrupted an average of three times per hour. The estimated cost of these interruptions to the American economy is $650 billion per year.
Health Issues – As if the impact on your time isn’t bad enough, multitasking can prove to be detrimental to your health as well. The stress associated with multitasking has been shown to cause headaches, digestion issues, short-term memory loss, and even a reduced ability to concentrate.
Reduced Quality of Work – NeuroImage, a science journal, has determined that managing two mental tasks at the same time significantly reduces the brain power available to concentrate on either one, ultimately damaging the quality of your final product.
Reduced Quality of Relationships – How many times have you gone into a restaurant and seen someone talking or texting on their cell phone during the middle of a meal while the others at their table await their return to the conversation? I feel this happens way too often and ultimately affects the quality of your relationships.
So, before you try to check email while talking to your co-worker during your conference call, think twice. Watch for future articles where we will provide strategies to reduce the amount of multitasking you do each day.