Reducing Multitasking to Improve Productivity

October 26, 2020

Louis Tay

We all know that we should not text and drive.

Yet, when it comes to academic learning and performance, many of us can believe that multitasking improves our productivity.

And, with COVID, multitasking has also become the norm as we live our lives and work through our computers and smartphones. All of which have multiple windows of information we can access at the tips of our fingers.

With multiple channels directly open to us, we are often tempted to perform numerous things at once. Why not roll together lecture listening and doing homework? Perhaps squeeze in a phone conversation while checking email? Or write that paper plus catch up on social media?

But just like texting and driving, we lose focus when we multitask. Research shows that people who tend to multitask multiple media streams are actually less able to switch from task-to-task – and, they are more likely to be distracted with irrelevant information.

In the longer run, people who try to juggle too many tasks end up being less productive and take longer to finish any given task!

The upshot then is that we should engage in less multitasking and stay focused on the task at hand.

Here are some ways that can help reduce multitasking to improve your productivity:

  • Give your full attention to online lectures
  • Put away devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets) and silence computer apps when you need to focus
  • Schedule time to do specific tasks (e.g., emails) so you are less tempted to engage in them while in online meetings

To greater productivity – and well-being!

Be well, 


Dr. Louis Tay

Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has expertise in well-being, assessments, and data science.  Be sure to check back each week for another wellness tip of the week!

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