Why multitasking is making you less productive

Ordering your regular cappuccino, headphones tuned into a podcast, single-handedly typing your first email of the day. It’s the image of productivity.

But how much are you really achieving? In your pursuit to get more hours out of the day, you’ve probably just created more work for yourself. That’s because the benefits of multitasking in your professional and private life are often outweighed by the downsides. These include:

Brain overload

Constantly switching tabs heightens stress and results in cognitive strain, preventing you from performing your best at work and home.

Reduced productivity

It’s estimated efficiency can drop by as much as 40 per cent when you’re not focused on a single task, creating more work for yourself.

Poor quality work

When frazzled, you look for shortcuts at every turn. This decreases the standard of your work or the value of interactions with those you love.

Increased forgetfulness

Frequent multitasking can make you forget the task at hand and cause you to struggle to learn new things.

Inability to be present

Juggling several to-dos at once means you’re never fully “in the moment”, causing communication and relationships to suffer.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five alternatives to multitasking you can implement across your work and life to get more done without sacrificing happiness or productivity.

Five tips to get more done


Out with multitasking, in with monotasking. This is the act of focusing on a single task at once, getting in the zone with minimal distractions to complete it efficiently and thoroughly. At the office, this can look like locking yourself away for an hour to finish a report. And at home, it can be spending an hour with your significant other doing an activity you both enjoy.

Be selective

Choose wisely when taking on new projects, events, and tasks. Your time is precious, and with just 24 hours in a day, being discerning about where you place your energy will reduce your need to juggle so much at once. When working, consider which tasks will move you closer to your goals and are in your realm of enjoyment and expertise. And when socialising, choose to spend time with people you enjoy being around (not just catching up for the sake of it).

Use the Pomodoro Method

This ‘80s time management tool has stuck around for a reason…it works! This method entails focusing on a task in 25-minute increments, then taking a five-minute break, ongoing. These short bursts improve productivity by keeping you focused for short periods, while helping break down a potentially large project into manageable chunks. There are plenty of online Pomodoro timers you can implement on your computer for work.

Rewrite your to-do list

Instead of dumping a bunch of tasks onto a page, start by mapping out your goals for the day. Then write out the necessary tasks to achieve them, sorting them in order of most to least important. Apply this to your relationships by adding critical face-to-face time to your day, or specifically writing down a task to do together, like cooking dinner.

Create a routine

The benefits of a daily routine exceed just the obvious increase in productivity that comes from having a set process. From boosting energy and motivation to increased self-worth, embarking on each day with a formulaic but flexible plan ensures you’re not struggling to cram an unattainable amount of work into eight hours, or skipping out on socialising because you haven’t allowed for it.