The idea of multitasking sounds great, but it’s actually highly inefficient. Try putting your phone down between certain hours, ignore those work emails, and you’ll actually give yourself less work.
Unlike computers, we’re not really able to properly multitask. Instead, our brain struggles to constantly switch tasks. We take our phones to bed, and deal with work-related emails at all hours. Author Michael Harris advocates disconnecting more often and creating proper periods of downtime, particularly from technology.
Just as sites like Facebook and Twitter distract people from work, so dealing with work outside of office hours distracts from rest and personal time.
Each shift of focus sets our brain back and creates a cumulative attention debt, resulting in a harried workforce incapable of producing sustained burst of creative energy. Constant connection means that we’re “always at work”, yes, but also that we’re “never at work” — fully.
Harris suggests that we should avoid “multi-switching” and give ourselves a break from “the digital maelstrom”.
We can’t keep falling prey to ambient work or play. Instead, we must actively decide on our level of tech engagement at different times to maximise productivity, success, and happiness.
If You’re Always Working, You’re Never Working Well [Harvard Business Review]