I’m a person of whim, and easily distracted. I don’t like multitasking. When I’m doing one thing, I like to do just that thing.”

Margaret Atwood, Novelist

Pros and Cons of Multitasking

advantages and disadvantages of multitasking

Multitasking is a term that describes the ability to perform more than one task at the same time.

Human multitasking is a quite controversial topic and people often disagree whether multitasking makes sense or not.

In order to answer this question, the pros and cons of multitasking are examined in the following.

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Advantages of Multitasking

  1. Multitasking can save you time
  2. You can train your mind
  3. Improvements in flexibility
  4. Can help you if you are in time-trouble
  5. Valid tool to manage your family and your job
  6. May sharpen our senses
  7. Improvements in resilience
  8. Can be helpful for completing quite simple tasks
  9. Multitasking protects you from getting bored
  10. You can learn how to deal with chaos
  11. Helpful if you work in a leading position in a company
  12. You will be better able to adapt to new circumstances

Multitasking can save you time

One important benefit of multitasking is that it can save you plenty of time if you do it right and also have the mental capabilities for it. In fact, if you have the mental strengths to carry out multiple tasks at a time, you may use your time in the most efficient manner since there will be no downtime over the course of your day.

Hence, in order to use your time in the most efficient manner, multitasking may be the way to go for you.

You can train your mind

Since you will have so many different things to do at the same time, you can really train your mind to work in the most efficient manner. Over time, chances are that you will become really good at figuring out how to approach a set of different tasks at the same time since you will be better able to coordinate your brain and your actions in the long run.

In fact, many studies have shown that the human brain would be able to accomplish much more and that we only use a minor fraction of our total capabilities in our daily life and at work most of the time. Therefore, multitasking can also lead to a state where people are able to use their full brain potential instead of just running on slow-mode.

Improvements in flexibility

If you engage in multitasking on a regular basis, you will also soon learn how to become quite flexible since you will have so many different tasks to do which may or may not work out and you will always have to adjust your strategy.

Hence, while many people just do one task at a time and will become quite rusty, chances are that you will stay agile, which will give you an edge in all parts of life since the world is changing quite fast and only if you stay flexible, you will continue to be successful in the future.

Can help you if you are in time-trouble

Especially if you have a strict deadline at your job and have to do several different things in order to hold that deadline, chances are that you will be forced into multitasking since you would otherwise not be able to get your work done in time.

In fact, multitasking at work can be quite important since you will sometimes have to wait for feedback regarding one task and instead of waiting for feedback, you can use this time more efficiently in case you urgently need to get other tasks done in time.

This is not only true for your job, but also for many other things in our daily lives. For example, if you are a student and have an exam pretty soon, chances are that you will be in serious time-trouble and have to use your time in the most efficient manner in order to get good grades.

Also in this situation, multitasking may help you a lot.

Valid tool to manage your family and your job

Especially if you have children, you will often feel like you have not enough time to manage your family and your job in a proper manner. In such a case, multitasking can help you a lot. For instance, while you are in your car driving to your kid’s school to pick your child up, you can also make calls with clients.

By doing so, you can get some work done and once you come back home with your kid, you can help him or her with homework or use the saved time for other activities you like. Thus, multitasking can also be a great way to make room for family activities if it is done in an efficient manner.

May sharpen our senses

We all have plenty of mental capacities to use. However, most of us only use a certain fraction of our overall capabilities and waste the rest of our mental resources. Yet, this can be considered to be rather inefficient since plenty of productivity may be lost.

In order to increase our overall level of productivity and to sharpen our senses, multitasking could also help many people in this regard since only if we challenge our brain on a continuous basis, it will deliver outstanding results.

In fact, many of us even don’t know what we are actually capable of. We only find out about it if we push ourselves to our mental borders.

Improvements in resilience

Multitasking is not always fun and many times, multitasking may result in serious stress. Yet, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if we are exposed to high levels of stress, we learn to improve our overall level of resilience and will also be better able to deal with stress in the long run. Hence, multitasking can also help us to push through difficult situations in our lives and to increase our overall level of perseverance.

Can be helpful for completing quite simple tasks

Especially for standardized tasks that are not quite demanding, multitasking can significantly improve our overall level of productivity since our brain would not be used at 100% if we only did one of those tasks.

Hence, if you have many tasks that are not demanding at all if they are carried out on an individual basis, you may want to try multitasking in order to get those tasks done in a faster manner.

Multitasking protects you from getting bored

Another benefit of multitasking is that you will also never get bored. If you just work at one single task and have to wait for feedback from your boss, chances are that you will get quite bored, especially if you have to wait for a rather long time. Sometimes, it will even feel like a waste of time to be at work at all.

Thus, if you are a person who gets bored quite easily and you have excessive amounts of downtime on a regular basis, try to engage in multitasking and search for other side-projects that could benefit your company.

Not only will you avoid getting bored, you may also be able to improve your standing inside the company since your overall level of productivity may improve substantially.

You can learn how to deal with chaos

If you engage in multitasking on a regular basis, chances are that you will also learn how to deal with chaos. This is quite important since being able to manage chaos is crucial to succeeding in all parts of your life.

In fact, people who know how to deal with chaos will be able to stay icy in tense situations and will find appropriate solutions for problems most of the time.

Therefore, multitasking can also teach you how to deal with chaos and how to manage these difficult situations.

Helpful if you work in a leading position in a company

Multitasking is especially important in case you have a leading role in a corporation. In such a case, you will often have to deal with several issues at the same time. You will always have employees who are not satisfied with their job and their position in the company. Many people will also not be satisfied with their raise and want to have more money.

Clients will not be satisfied with the quality of work in some cases. If you have a leading position in a company, you will have to deal with all those tasks on a regular basis at the same time and it is therefore crucial that you learn multitasking in order to solve all those problems in time.

You will be better able to adapt to new circumstances

Since you will learn to stay flexible if you multitask on a regular basis, chances are that you will also be able to adapt to new circumstances in a rather short period of time.

This is quite an important skill since in our current state of the world, everything changes quite rapidly and what provided value to your clients a few years ago will no longer provide any value to them today.

Therefore, it is crucial that you are always able to adapt to new circumstances and multitasking can also greatly help you in this regard.

Disadvantages of Multitasking

  1. Excessive stress
  2. Burnout
  3. Multitasking may lead to mental issues
  4. Multitasking can even lower the overall efficiency of people
  5. Not sustainable in the long run
  6. People often have a flawed perception of the success of multitasking
  7. Sleeping problems
  8. Motivation issues
  9. People may act like machines
  10. Overall quality of work will suffer
  11. Wrong priorities
  12. Multitasking can distract your focus
  13. Working atmosphere can suffer due to multitasking
  14. Multitasking is just not suitable for most people

Excessive stress

As we have seen before, multitasking can have many important benefits. Yet, there are also many problems with this concept. One disadvantage of multitasking is that it often implies significant stress for people.

If you have to solve several problems at the same time, your brain may no longer be able to deal with all those tasks in a proper manner and this may result in excessive stress and panic.

Such a state is never healthy in the long run and excessive stress levels are known to cause serious physical as well as mental issues.

Burnout

Burnout is a problem that has become quite popular over the past decade. In former times, almost nobody talked about the problem of burnout. It either hadn’t existed or our media has not reported about it in a proper manner. People get burned out if they have too many things to do at the same time.

In our nowadays society, we are often overwhelmed by all the information we get on our smartphones. At the same time, we have to work in demanding jobs and some of us even have to take care of kids. In order to deal with all this information and all those tasks, people often have to multitask.

However, in the long run, this sort of excessive multitasking can lead to serious burnout and people who suffer from burnout will often have to wait many weeks or even months until they are ready to function in our society again.

Therefore, people who multitask on a regular basis are often also at greater risk to suffer from serious burnout and you should be quite careful in order not to do too many things at the same time.

Multitasking may lead to mental issues

Apart from burnout, multitasking can also lead to a serious of additional mental problems. Many people simply feel quite empty and do no longer know how to deal with their stress from their daily life in a healthy manner. In turn, many people in our nowadays society suffer from depression.

In order to avoid those mental states, people should take a break from their stressful lives from time to time and this also includes avoiding multitasking whenever you can.

Our brain only has a limited capacity to process information and if we want to do too much at the same time on a regular basis, chances are that our brain will no longer work property at one point in time.

Multitasking can even lower the overall efficiency of people

Even though multitasking can help us to be more efficient in the short run, this is not true at all in the long run. Studies have shown that multitasking actually even decreases the efficiency of work in the long run since people get burned out and do not know how to deal with all those tasks in a proper manner.

Therefore, in order to optimize the productivity of their workers, companies should not advise employees to engage in multitasking but rather that everyone should only do one task at a time in order to avoid drops in efficiency in the long run.

Not sustainable in the long run

In general, the concept of multitasking is also not sustainable for most people in our society. At one point in time, our brains will simply no longer work properly and our mental performance will suffer quite a lot if we do too many things at the same time.

Thus, in order to stay mentally healthy and fit in the long run, you may want to refuse from engaging in multitasking and may want to just do one thing at a time.

People often have a flawed perception of the success of multitasking

Although many studies have shown that multitasking decreases the efficiency and productivity of workers in the long run, people often have a flawed perception of their actual performance and many people really think that carrying out several tasks at the same time will make them more productive.

This flawed perception of reality can lead to a state where people lose significant amounts of their potential productivity while they don’t even know about this fact at the same time.

Sleeping problems

The high level of stress that is implied by multitasking can also lead to a state where people suffer from significant sleeping problems. In fact, insomnia has become a quite big problem over the past years.

In many cases, people are simply no longer able to unplug from the tasks they have to do in their daily life and even late in the evening, many people try to get things done through multitasking.

In such cases, sleeping problems are quite common since our brain no longer knows when it is time to relax and to recover.

Motivation issues

Another downside of multitasking is that it can also lead to serious motivation issues in the long run. Many people are quite motivated in the short run when they engage in multitasking. However, over time, those people will often become quite frustrated since they also realize that their overall efficiency will suffer over time.

Moreover, many people are also not willing to multitask on a regular basis since their job is simply not important enough for them to spend all their energy on it.

People may act like machines

If we work too much and have too many things to do at the same time, chances are that we will act in a machine-like behavior instead of in a human way. Quite often, we will also forget what’s really important in life since we are so focused on increasing our productivity.

However, humans have never meant to be machines and therefore, if you are one of those people who act in a machine-like manner, you should really ask yourself whether it is time for a break or a significant change.

Overall quality of work will suffer

Not only the efficiency of workers will suffer through multitasking in the long run, also the quality of work tends to suffer as well. If we focus on only one task, we will often be able to structure it as best as possible and to achieve great results.

Yet, if we have to do many things at the same time, chances are that we will no longer be able to spend sufficient time for each task and therefore, our overall working quality may drop significantly due to multitasking.

Wrong priorities

Another problem of multitasking is that people will often set the wrong priorities in their lives. For instance, some tasks will be much more important to you than others.

However, you may no longer recognize this once you are in multitasking mode and this can lead to a state where you neglect the things or people that are most important to you.

Multitasking can distract your focus

Even though some people may actually learn to focus through multitasking, others may become rather distracted since they are often not able to deal with all those tasks at the same time. Hence, whether multitasking rather improves or distracts your focus also depends on your personality type.

Working atmosphere can suffer due to multitasking

Also the atmosphere inside a company may greatly suffer due to multitasking. If people have to do too many things at the same time, chances are that they will no longer support their colleagues in a sufficient manner. In turn, employees may turn into selfish machines rather than being there for each other.

Multitasking is just not suitable for most people

In general, the vast majority of our global population will just not have the mental capacity to deal with multiple issues at the same time. While there are some exceptions to this rule out there, most of us will be far better off to just do one task at a time in order to stay healthy in the long run.

Top 10 Multitasking Pros & Cons – Summary List

Multitasking ProsMultitasking Cons
Potential increase in productivityMultitasking can lead to serious stress
Multitasking may save you timeMental issues
May train your mindBurnout
You learn to react and make decisions fastMultitasking can even decrease productivity
Multitasking can improve your flexibilityOverall decrease in quality of life
Can sharpen your sensesMay not be sustainable in the long run
You can improve your level of resilienceCan lead to wrong priorities
You learn to deal with chaosQuality of work can suffer
May be necessary in leading professionsMultitasking is not suitable for everyone
Multitasking can help you adapt to new thingsCan distract your focus

Does Multitasking Make Sense?

From the previous discussion, we can conclude that there are many advantages and disadvantages related to the concept of multitasking. While multitasking can make sense in the short run, the negative effects of it are simply too big in my opinion in the long run.

Therefore, I advise people to rather focus on one task, complete it in the best possible manner and then move on to the next task in order to stay productive and healthy in the long run.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_multitasking

https://blogthinkbig.com/what-does-science-have-to-say-about-multitasking

https://www.verywellmind.com/multitasking-2795003

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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