We often take pride in our ability to handle several tasks at the same time. But our brain is actually not built for this. Handling different tasks at the same time actually makes us less productive and can in the long run even increase the risk of a burn-out.
Neuro-psychiatrist Theo Compernolle explained this to the magazine Psyche & Brein and previously also in this healthlab.tv episode: Can We Multitask Or Not?.
"Our thinking brain does not have the capacity to handle several tasks at the same time. If we wish to use more than one input-channel at the same time, we constantly switch between these two tasks," says Compernolle. After years of practice, our brain is still not adapted to multi-tasking.
Beeps and notifications
You immediately open incoming emails at work, and if you receive a WhatsApp or Facebook notification on your smartphone, you prefer to read it within just minutes of receiving it. Recognizable? It's definitely not efficient. "If you have to look at your professional inbox on your smartphone, tablet or computer for every beep you hear, you're constantly multi-tasking. If you don't succeed in disabling all those distractions for an hour, you will never be able to work efficiently", Compernolle warns.
The neuropsychiatrist claims you lose a lot of time, energy, memory and thinking power if you constantly switch between tasks, which causes you to take about 3 to 4 times longer and will result in a product of lesser quality. Aside from that, your stress level also increases if you work this way. Compernolle even sees a relation between multi-tasking and burn-outs. "A lot of people demand a lot from their body and their brains. I am convinced that we see more and more burn-outs in young people because there is never a moment's peace. There is still a solution for this problem: stop multi-tasking. It's a vicious circle: the more you multi-task, the longer every task takes and the less time is left for other tasks", he concludes.