4 Tips to Quit Multitasking

It’s messing with your brain — and your happiness

Darius Foroux
Forge
Published in
3 min readNov 1, 2019

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Credit: Nattapol Poonpiriya / EyeEm/Getty

I’I’m going to take a guess: You’re doing something else right now in addition to reading this article. Maybe you’re in a meeting, or working on a proposal, or walking on a treadmill, or listening to your mom on the phone telling you what she had for dinner. The point is you’re multitasking.

And why wouldn’t you, when busyness has become such a badge of honor? When we’re led to believe that we need to be “doing” something at all times, why stop at one thing? Why not go for two things in a single moment, or even three? With all the pressure to be constantly productive, it’s easy to forget about all the studies telling us that multitasking isn’t effective. But there are plenty of them: Research has shown that multitasking reduces productivity (every time you switch between tasks, it takes up to nine minutes to refocus on the original task), increases the rate of errors, and may even damage your brain. The estimated global cost of multitasking is $450 billion a year. It’s also making us sad.

Let me ask you some questions:

  1. Do you ever feel restless?
  2. Do you feel the urge to grab your phone every five minutes (or even less)?
  3. Do you find it difficult to focus on just one thing?
  4. Do your relationships suffer from your “distracted” behavior?

If you answered yes to all four, you might be addicted to multitasking. I was, too. But once I became aware of my behavior, I made a concerted effort to change. Here are my tips for how to follow suit.

Pay attention

For next few days, make note of when you’re dealing with more than one task at the same time. Do you tend to multitask more at certain times of day? When you’re doing certain types of tasks? Figure out what your triggers are — without awareness, we can’t change our behavior.

Turn off notifications for your nonessential apps

To reduce the temptation to split my attention, I’ve turned off notifications on almost all the apps on my phone and computer. The exceptions include calls, messages, reminders, calendar alerts, notices from my banking…

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Darius Foroux
Forge
Writer for

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