Multitasking and Productivity

Do you regularly try to perform two tasks simultaneously, switch from one task to another, or perform two or more tasks in rapid succession?  Are you actually multitasking or simply dividing your attention and reducing your productivity?


For many years multitasking was deemed a necessary skill to be highly productive in business … spilling out into our busy personal lives exacerbated by the multiple information channels we interact with daily.  

There are multiple studies looking at multitasking and how it can affect our productivity and cognitive abilities.

One by Joshua Rubinstein, Jeffrey Evans, and David Meyer, found that participants lost significant amounts of time as they switched between multiple tasks and lost even more time as the tasks became increasingly complex*. Researchers suggest that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as much as 40%.

Even if you hold a different opinion … why not try out a 20 minute rule over the next couple of weeks?

Turn off the music (unless it’s instrumental), switch off your phone, close all the tabs on your computer, and dedicate your attention 100% to one task for 20 minutes at a time … and see what impact it has on your productivity.

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*Rubinstein JS, Meyer DE, Evans, JE. Executive control of cognitive processes in task switching. J Exp Psychol Human. 2001;27(4):763-797. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.27.4.763