Do you find yourself texting or surfing the web when you have a challenging task to complete? I'm multitasking right now as I'm writing this article. A recent study from the University of Ohio suggests that media multitasking gives us an emotional boost. Researchers suggest that we are more likely to multitask when an activity is cognitively difficult. For example, as a university student, I found myself spending more time on Facebook and surfing the web when I had important term papers due or exams to study for.
Many studies have shown that multitasking makes us much less productive. However, researchers suggest that we continue to do it because it makes cognitively strenuous activities more enjoyable. It's a way of coping with the stress of a mentally taxing task. Unfortunately though, the positive emotional feelings that accompany multitasking behaviour send us the message that we should continue to do it even though it lowers our productivity considerably.
I suggest taking scheduled breaks when you are working. Divide your time into increments and work uninterrupted for a period of time (e.g. 30 minutes). Then, reward yourself with a short media break. Creep on Facebook, check your Twitter or text a friend. Then go back to the work that you are trying to complete. You will get the same emotional boost as you do when you multitask, but the positive feelings will act as a reward for your hard work instead of a reward for distracting yourself from work.
Do you have any productivity tips?
Ohio State University. (2012, May 2). "Media Multitasking Offers Emotional Boost But Could Be Detrimental To Performance." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Licensed Psychologist in Fredericton, N.B.