It seems being “busy” has somehow become synonymous with success. There is a prevailing notion that equates being busy with productivity. However, idle time is associated with lack of motivation or drive. But the research actually debunks this myth.
Put simply, multitasking is the killer of productivity. According to a study from the University of Michigan, switching what you’re doing mid-task increases the time it takes you to finish both tasks by 25 percent.
“Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes,” author David Meyer says. “Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.”
In other words, busyness inhibits the brain from functioning at optimal performance. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the bandwidth to perform both tasks at the same level and your work suffers.
Researchers from the University of Sussex backed this claim. They studied the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) in tandem with MRI scans of their brains. They found that frequent multitaskers had less brain density, which suggests this activity trains the brain to become mindless and unproductive.
So if we know multi-tasking isn’t good for our brains and work life, why do we keep doing it? Blame society. According to a study from the University of Chicago, people have come to believe busyness is a sign of success and idle time is lost opportunity. In other words, we as humans are naturally drawn to a “busy” lifestyle even if it works to our detriment. But science tells us slowing down is really the best thing we can do for our personal and work lives.
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