Many people believe themselves to be multitasking masters, but could it all be in their heads? The founder of WordStream, Larry Kim, recently published an article in Inc. about the affects of multitasking.
Our brains weren't built to multitask. There is perfectly clear science that our brains are "not wired to multitask." Some even refer to email/Twitter/Facebook-checking as a neural addiction.
Multitasking lowers your work quality and efficiency and multitaskers experience significant IQ drops similar to what you see from skipping a night of sleep or smoking marijuana. Multitasking increases production of cortisol, the stress hormone and reduces your effective IQ by 10-15 points!
Protect yourself: establish an e-mail checking schedule. Commit yourself to checking emails only three times a day, (maybe when you get into work in the morning, at lunch time, and before leaving work at the end of the day). Turn off texting notifications and choose specific times to check your phone as well. Turn off notifications, create set email checking time slots throughout the day (rather than constant inbox refreshing), and put your mind to the task at hand.
The damage could be permanent: MRI scans on the brains of individuals who spent time on multiple devices at once (texting while watching TV, for example) showed that subjects who multitasked more often had less brain density... Multitasking men have it the worst.
Why We Care
Our work is hard and requires us to think. We should consider setting company standards around email and other interruptions. Our work space design has an impact on distraction and we should think about it hard.