With your regular busy schedule, you are most likely trying to do as much as you can within each day.  Although you may be checking things off your to-do list, you might be causing yourself harm long term. Studies have actually shown that multitasking can reduce your overall performance and efficiency in the task(s) you are trying to complete.

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A study revealed that multitasking can reduce productivity by 40%, and brain imaging revealed that changing tasks too frequently can interfere with brain activity.

Tara Ivins is a Certified Health Coach and Yoga Instructor and works with clients to create a healthier and stronger plan for life. “At first there is a great advantage to being easily able to slip from one task to another or multi-task. Unfortunately, that same great quality often leaves us in situations where we have taken on too much, missed out on the subtleness of experiences, or felt overwhelmed. Worst of all, excessive multi-tasking can leave us feeling like we are incapable or unworthy because the ability to finish a project to its fullest has become diminished”, says Ivins.

The fact of the matter is that your brain can only focus on one task at a time. Attempting to do more than that your brain will fail to have the capacity to perform both tasks successfully. It also affects your body in more ways than one, switching between tasks can make your brain eat up more glucose which results in fatigue. Below are some negative side effects of multitasking.

Negative Side Effects

  1. Lowers your IQ.
  2. Slows you down.
  3. Lose focus easier.
  4. Leads to mistakes.
  5. This can lead to memory problems.
  6. This can lead to increased distractibility.
  7. It’s bad for the brain.
  8. Can cause anxious feelings.
  9. You start to compromise quality.
  10. This can result in fatigue.

So if multitasking is so harmful why can’t you stop doing it?

For starters multitaskers are often seen as proficient, driven and high performers. Scientifically you get a surge of dopamine when you achieve tasks on your to-do list. Responding to an email, making a quick phone call or answering a texts offers a shot of hormones to the pleasure center of the brain that is very addictive. This idea is supported in a study that involved rats being prompted to press a bar that would send an electrical impulse directly to the pleasure center of the brain. This impulse was so addictive that the rats avoided sleep and food to the point of starvation! It proves how addictive the act of multitasking can be and why it might be ignored despite the discomfort it can bring.

Although there are many cons to multitasking, it’s not all bad. There has been some supportive research that shows that during tasks that require low cognitive load (like folding clothes or washing dishes), it’s ok to allow the mind to wander. This can help foster creative problem solving and aid in effective decision making.

All in all like most things multitasking should be done in moderation. Pay attention to the warning signs and be mindful of taking breaks when needed in order to have the best results.