Why multitasking is probably bad for your career (and your health)









Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.

Jean-Paul Sartre



Apr 23, 2014, 11:55am MST Mike Sunnucks Senior Reporter-Phoenix Business Journal

All that multitasking you juggle at work and your addiction to smartphones, texting and social media websites may be bad for you — and your career.

Dr. Romie Mushtaq — a neurologist and national wellness expert — says having a single focus and clearing one’s mind via yoga and meditation are key to creative thinking and problem solving.

“Multitasking, on the other hand, depresses the brain’s memory and analytical functions, and it reduces blood flow to the part of the right temporal lobe, which contributes to our creative thinking,” said Mushtaq, who is based in Orlando, Fla.

Creative professionals, inventors and authors, such as Stephen King, have long talked about being ‘in the zone’ when writing or producing bodies of work.

“In today’s marketplace, creativity is key for innovation, sustainability and leadership,” Mushtaq said.

That works against the current technology-focused generation of students and younger workers who can be glued to smart phones and social media as well as workplaces where managers and rank-and-file workers take on more and more duties and can’t get away from e-mails.

“Multitasking has just become something normal for me to do,” said Sienna Carrillo, a junior at Arizona State University. “I don’t know how to not multitask anymore.”

Multitasking is a key job duty in professions ranging from coffee shop baristas and financial analysts to advertising executives and graphic designers.

“As a self-professed tech addict, I can honestly say that having the latest tools and technology helps me do my job better and more efficiently than ever,” said Melissa Rein, owner of the Brand Consortium PR in Scottsdale.

Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, says the penchant for juggling tasks and technology is a double-edged sword.

“The ability to juggle multiple projects and priorities, often seen as a virtue, could actually be a drawback, as it results in diminished ability to devote proper attention to any particular project or priority,” Sanders said. “With a realistic number of things we can all focus on that is probably far smaller than what we take on in the course of a day, we may be doing ourselves – and our co-workers and clients – a disservice by trying to do too much.”

Sanders is more concerned about the quality of work suffering than workers getting burnt out on technology.

Mushtaq has some tips for boosting creativity and productivity, including focusing on one task at a time for at least part of the workday and every once in a while getting away from your desk and technology to stimulate your senses and brain function.

Many millenials and other technology addicts aren’t ready to give up their smart phones and are prone to check text messages during meetings and classes. They say multitasking is part of their daily life.

“Multitasking helps me get a lot done,” said Kristen Carver, an ASU sophomore. “I’m so used to it that I don’t even know when I am doing it.”

Mike Sunnucks writes about politics, law, airlines, sports business and the economy.



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