The Minimalist Lifestyle Taught Me The Negative Effect of Multitasking

negative effect of multitasking

Negative Effect of Multitasking

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It took me to become a Minimalist to realize the negative effect of multitasking. I have worked in the field doing installs and repairs in the telecommunication industry most of my life and prided myself on the ability to multitask. Multitasking is not as efficient as we are led to believe. In fact, It is actually counter-productive.

When you work free from a boss peering over your shoulder producing results become paramount. I felt busy as I took on multiple tasks. I would look to perform another task as the task I was presently doing afforded a few minutes of what I believed was downtime.

The more I multitasked the more proficient and clever I became at filling what I believed was unused time with an additional task. These quick tasks would be things like spending a few seconds sending or reading an email or calling a client to confirm a scheduled appointment. Nothing that required much brain power.

When I began living a more minimalist lifestyle I realized the multitasking I was doing was a waste of time and not needed. I realized the negative effect of multitasking. Do you believe multitasking benefits you? Let’s take a closer look.

The Minimalist Lifestyle Saved Me

I have been blessed with loving all of the jobs I have worked to support myself. I have never really had a desk job and mostly worked out in the field. Most of my career I never even punched a time clock.

The last 15 years of my work life I worked from home and visited clients all over the New York and New Jersey area. When you work from home you tend to use the myth of multitasking to trick yourself into feeling more productive. I was a willing victim of this fallacy.

There is no such thing as multitasking. The human brain is not capable of multitasking. There is no benefit from multitasking even if it could. The term was coined in 1965 to describe the inner working of this new contraption called a computer.

At the time even the computer did not multitask. What we call multitasking is really task-switching. This would be a more accurate description of what the human brain and the computer does. Multitasking was a lie then and it is a lie now.

As I began to slow my life down and live more deliberately I reluctantly began to abandon my multitasking rituals. Guess what? The world did not come to an end. I began to live a life filled with even less stress, more time with family and friends at a more humane pace. With only the focus of enjoying the present in my thoughts.

Fighting The Fear Of Missing Out – FOMO

When you begin living a minimalist lifestyle FOMO will eventually raise its ugly head. The motto “Less is More” seems counter-intuitive but it is accurate. When the store clerk says you can get an item you don’t even really want 2 for 1, you say why not? Now you have two items to throw into the back of your closet and trust me you paid for two. That is FOMO at work.

Marketers use FOMO against you every day all day. Buy get one free! For a limited time only! First 100 customers! If you don’t want or need the item none of those trappings should affect you. But it still does.

The same goes for work and your lifestyle. If you are forced to believe the multitasking myth is a solution it is time to stop and think. Eliminate something or the negative effect of multitasking will do it for you. Lead with what is important and discard the rest. Remember, less is more. More time, money and living space. Did I mention more time? LOL.

As you are living a life of putting what is important to your happiness first FOMO will raise it’s ugly head again telling you that you can squeeze a bunch more unnecessary crap in at the same time. Fight FOMO because the only thing you will be missing out on is extra stress, anxiety and no benefit from it.

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The Negative Effect of Multitasking

When I began living the minimalist lifestyle the need to multitask never crossed my mind again. Life was going well and I was even more productive. How could this be?

I move, walk, talk and think slower and I am more productive. This reality caused me to take a look at what was happening when I believe the result of multitasking was more productivity.

We already know that what we call multitasking is actually task-switching. When we begin to task switch we are not able to perform both tasks at the best of our ability. Both suffer slightly. Your brain can easily toggle back and forth between less demanding task. That may be ok and acceptable to get both complete on time.

Now let’s look at a more hectic life and more demanding task. When your brain needed to toggle back and forth an area of your brain called the posterior lateral prefrontal cortex (pLPFC) goes to work. Your pLPFC will line the information up in a queue because the brain is incapable of handling them simultaneously.

When this information comes too quickly, the brain queues up the first two pieces of information and ignores the rest. It may feel like you are multitasking but you are not. You are dropping the ball multiple time a minute or even a second.

The brain needs to stop thinking about one task to begin thinking about performing another. This delay in time is called “attention residue”. You are thinking about performing one task even though you are supposedly already moved on to the next.This is less efficient than performing one task at a time so both tasks suffer. When I slowed my life down I realized the negative effect of multitasking.

I found I was multitasking even when there was no need to. Multitasking was my default position. When I began to end my multitasking ways I realized the forgotten joy of doing a task at a humane pace. The joy of facing a task with all of my abilities intact. I actually enjoy it and was easily more proficient than when multitasking. I was really short-changing my job, customers, and family with less than optimal attention by multitasking.

Thanks to the minimalist lifestyle the negative effect of multitasking is a distant, fading memory in my life. I hope it is for you and never to return. If not it can be.

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Tony W

Nothing To Lose.

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Tony W
Tony W

I created this website to explore Minimalist Living Ideas and what I have learned about Minimalism, Essentialism and Simple Living. Enjoying life with less worry, less stress, more money, more time and more freedom.

  • Vicky

    Great read! I can totally relate… Take away the multitasking and add in some focus, and great things can happen. Although I still do some multitasking at times… most women do I would say lol… focus is crucial for any success!

    • Thanks for your comment Vicky. Multitasking is a bad habit that can be difficult to overcome. When I find myself doing it, I smile and give myself a pass. Multitasking makes me feel good sometimes. LOL.

  • I agree Vicky. Multitasking is a bad habit that I find hard to break. When I find myself doing it I just smile at myself. Multitasking makes me feel better sometimes.

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