The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” refers to an individual who is versed in all trades, but an expert in none. It doesn’t just apply to careers, but everyday tasks as well. Numerous studies have shown that multitasking actually decreases productivity and the quality of work produced.
According to Wired.com, children did worse on homework when watching television, and employees were more productive when not checking email every five minutes.
“In a 2009 study, Stanford researcher Clifford Nass challenged 262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information, and using working memory. Nass and his colleagues expected that frequent multitaskers would outperform nonmultitaskers on at least some of these activities. They found the opposite: Chronic multitaskers were abysmal at all three tasks. The scariest part: Only one of the experiments actually involved multitasking, signaling to Nass that even when they focus on a single activity, frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively.” – Don’t Multitask: Your Brain Will Thank You, TIME.com
So what should you do if you do too much?
- Avoid emails. Studies show that the average industry professional spends 23 percent of the day emailing, according to Nass. Obsessively checking emails both wastes time and causes stress. Focus on one task for longer periods, without switching to your email inbox.
- Do tasks in 20-minute intervals. Dedicate 20 minutes to perform a task, then switch to a different one for the next 20 minutes.
- Give your mind a break; get away from your electronics and go for a walk, meditate, or do some yoga.