In today’s world, we’re expected to meet at least a few deadlines within a short time? What is it doing to our brains?
As a WAHM to two boys, there was no other way for me to function or get anything at all done unless I learned how to multitask throughout the day.
The pros: You get things done. People actually admire those who can multitask. It is apparently a modern-day Super Power
The cons: Things are sloppy, curiously sub-par, and can be dangerous
When I searched up what people often looked for about multitasking, here’s a list of what I found:
- How multitasking works
- How multitasking affects productivity and brain health
- Multitasking and learning
- How to multitask iPad Pro
- Effects of multitasking on the brain
- Can multitasking be good?
- When multitasking works
- Multitasking while driving
- Can multitasking cause Alzheimer?
- Is multitasking bad for students?
- Why is multitasking good/bad?
- Multitasking with split-view
- Multitasking to focus (which is kind of an oxymoron)
- iPad multitasking without a dock
It’s not uncommon for people to do a couple of things at the same time. I have one computer screen and a smartphone staring at me as I am writing this article but that’s already more than I can handle.
As it is, several non-electrical screens are running the background in my head, spinning around questions, tasks, requests, and emails and they’re convoluted enough to drive me wild.
I don’t need another screen to add to this already arduous task of writing.
As someone who has been writing, publishing, ghostwriting, marketing, and developing websites and social media campaigns for decades, I can tell you with a high level of certainty that when multitasking is your go-to, it can impair the essence of your work, relationships, and work-life balance.
MultiTasking Has an Adverse Effect on your Focus and Work
This goes without saying because there are already tons of studies and articles done on the effects of multitasking and how women excel at it.
Either way, some of us have no other choice but to do it. The alternative would be to get ‘absolutely nothing done at all.”
My friends and family were often left speechless when I tell them how I used to breastfeed my baby while designing a logo, writing an article, and answering an email all at the same time on a second-hand, shared, dilapidated computer that was past its fly-by date (but it still worked if you’re patient enough).
The question they DIDN’T ASK was:
- Did I like it?
- Was the work good?
- Was I happy?
- Would I do it differently?
Truth be told, my mental health went down the drain. Hence, I developed a better writing habit.
Multitasking Destroys your Content Calendar and Confuses your Writing Team
Multitasking in the world of content development and marketing strategies is hardly new and quite inescapable. Especially if they’re solo marketers.
I’ve seen shared screens of co-workers’ computers with, like, maybe a hundred open tabs on three monitors and a phone. How does THAT even work?, I wondered loudly in my head.
When working with a team of people, I strongly believe in having a solid content calendar and marketing strategy. There’s some hobnobbing to be done.
We’re dealing with a lot of things, not just a piece of content. The content, be it graphic, article, blog or social media post, has to jive with all the marketing platforms and strategies we have in mind.
At the back of my mind, we’re also thinking about product placements, calls to action, engagement, engagement, audience reach, and answering our readers’ questions while writing.
Multitasking, then, seems like the perfect solution to get as many of those things done as quickly as possible! It’s simple as pie.
Or is it?
Multitasking Messes with your Brain
Watching TV, listening to your favorite songs on Youtube or Spotify, or cooking dinner while writing content is a very familiar kind of multitasking for content writers and digital marketers.
In the new age we’re living in, multitasking even takes on the form of attending a Zoom call while writing at the same time. It’s bananas.
You’re asking your brain to split itself up into different sectors to process different things at the same time and studies reveal, again and again, that humans are not designed for that!
Whether that’s emailing someone while I’m on hold or returning my calls when I’m driving home from work so that I don’t have to be on the phone when I’m with my kids or. You know, put — doing two things at once has just kind of become my life. But I have to say it’s very exhausting and I’m interested to hear how it may be affecting me in ways that I don’t even realize besides the exhaustion I feel at the end of the day.- Bad At Multitasking? Blame Your Brain, NPR Podcast
What the brain is actually doing when you multitask is that it is jumping from one task to another, focusing briefly and catching as many things as possible during that time. Scientists contend that when we force our brains to do that, we’re actually causing it damage.
It’s cognitive overload.
Researchers, Kep Kee Loh and Dr. Ryota Kanai, at the University of Sussex’s Sackler Center for Consciousness, used magnetic imagine (fMRI) to look into the brains of adults who multitasked.
They found that multitasking can change the brain’s structure after prolonged exposure to such everyday experiences. It also changes our behavior and responses because it impacts the parts of our brains responsible for empathy, cognitive, and emotional control.
Focus on What You’re Doing for Optimal Results
About 5 years ago, after a particularly disastrous attempt to write 2 to 3 articles at the same time (due to looming deadlines), I decided to remove distractions. Switching between one article to another was turning me into a nutjob.
Sure, it takes more time to complete each task when we stick with them until the very end but the result, I promise you this, would be far more satisfying.
The only things I keep with me when writing is relaxing music without lyrics and coffee. My phone is on silent.
For me, at least, there is no other way to do this right. I want to focus on delivering the best that I can with the time that I am given.
Multitasking Results in Low-Quality, Sloppy Work
We’re all engulfed in mountains of tasks, especially now that nearly everyone’s been exposed to the hardships of working from home.
Now, you’re on my train.
Welcome to it and I hope it didn’t destroy too much of your life.
The world recognizes the adverse effects of multitasking and even drug companies are developing products to enhance our mental capabilities so that we can do more within a shorter period.
And with good reason. Multitasking reduces the quality of your work by a whopping 40%!
They’ve discovered that today’s obsession with multitasking and cramming as many things into our schedule as possible, is perilous to our brain functions, causes severe stress, and decreases our tolerance levels.
We basically go through the Terrible Twos again at the age of thirty- or forty-something.
When we’re trying to answer an email and talk on the phone at the same time, our brain is skittering around like an over-excited puppy and it causes a task-jam.
This was confirmed by Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist at the University of London.
This is why Professor Miller, for one, is highly wary of the multitasking lifestyle. ‘People can’t do it very well, and when they say they can, they’re deluding themselves,’ he says. ‘The brain is very good at deluding itself.’ — DailyMail.co.uk
As a copywriter and content strategist, I can confirm this to be true. Before we start pounding on our keyboards, we do a whole load of research and compile lists of data and links. We need these insights to either support or flesh out our content.
When I multitask, I can’t remember or re-contextualize the information that I have already processed.
I get derailed (and annoyed) and have to backtrack. In short, it wastes more time.
I also became highly agitated, fussy, aggressive, angry, impulsive, stressed, and highly strung while developing even content that I loved.
Humans are not Built for Multitasking
I didn’t know this before and, sadly, took multitasking in my stride during my early days as a content writer, developer, strategist, and marketer.
It has a very real cost to the way content developers work, however. According to researchers, humans are not built to work this way (multitasking). We’re really built to focus.
For children, it can lead to a form of autism if introduced too early, which is associated with a form of social disconnectedness. Multitasking, at the end of the day, is robbing us of our compassion, self-awareness, and worst of all, creativity!
What is content development and copywriting without creativity?
Create your own Content Writing Style to be Super Effective
Multitasking makes you lose your ability to remember what you were reading or seeing just a couple of minutes ago. You lose track of what your initial idea was, and sometimes, it drags you back by the hours.
If you have a content calendar and tools that keep you on track and productive, FANTASTIC. Keep at it.
Otherwise, consider creating your own schedule and to-do list using tools like Trello. Slack, or Asana.
Start the day by organizing the most important things to get done — you know, things that will get you in serious sinkholes if not done immediately.
Then work your way down the list.
Before calling it a day, go through your list of to-dos again and re-prioritize. It’s important to train your mind to understand what is important to you for the day.
Create your Mise-en-place
Don’t be afraid to be largesse with trying out new tools and apps.
Oftentimes, I refer to my Google Keep tool to help me find and develop topics to write about.
Then, I open the Google Drive document, read through articles for ideas, thoughts, and opinions. I compile them into a list some people call the skeleton of the article.
Before I start writing the first word, I have to get all my ducks in a row. Create my own mise-en-place. That’s how chefs work. They prep well ahead of time to ensure all ingredients and tools are in place before the whip starts cracking.
Content developers and copywriters have to do the same thing…and that’s just my personal opinion and style. If your style is different and it works for you, you do you!
For content writers, it comes in the form of lists — everything ranging from to-do lists, priority lists, idea lists, project lists, contact lists, team lists, link lists, and of course, the content calendar which is…in effect, a list too.
In the nutshell…
This is the system that works for me, for now.
And even as I was typing this, both my boys just walked up to me for our usual morning, reassuring hugs (they’re full-grown adults now but they still do this! I love it!) and I had this ‘I am working and teetering on the edge’ look on my face.
My son said, “Gosh, mom. You look like you’re just on the edge. Why?’
I regret that. Let’s have less of this from hereon.
Want to read more about multitasking and how it is destroying our productivity and career? Read the article from Forbes.
Thanks for reading this far and I want to know that I am sincerely grateful. It also makes me very happy to know that if I have helped you in any way at all, be it on a personal or professional level.
I’ve always believed in the power of being able to lift others without asking for anything back in return. Of course, work doesn’t come free but if we live with compassion, understanding, and a little more empathy, we can each make the world (at least just ours for now) a better place.
Peace and write on,