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Multitasking Is Worse for Productivity Than Smoking Marijuana


Here’s some depressing news for people who are attempting to be functional humans in the 21st century: doing more than one thing at once, otherwise known as the only way anyone ever does anything anymore, is probably keeping us from being truly productive.

A recent study from Kings Psychiatry College in London found that jumping between products and overusing technology caused a 10-point drop in test subjects’ IQs. For comparison, subjects who were tested after smoking marijuana experienced a 5-point drop in IQ.

“Unchecked infomania reduces workers’ mental sharpness,” said Dr. Glen Wilson, the lead psychologist on the study. “Multitasking can be incredibly stressful on the brain; it impairs short-term memory and concentration. Those who are constantly breaking away from tasks to react to email or text messages suffer similar effects on the mind as losing a night’s sleep.”

In an article on The Age, performance coach Andrew May offers recommendations for kicking the multitasking habit, including:

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1. Organizing time into blocks, and devoting those blocks to one task.

2. Forced isolation, i.e., turning off your phone, email alerts, and instant messaging features for a set period of time.

3. Tech-free meetings.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think multitasking saves time, or wastes it? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

More from PayScale

For 98 Percent of People, Multitasking Kills Productivity [infographic]

Why Your Boss Shouldn’t Want You to Multitask

The 10 Commandments of Productivity


(Photo Credit: ryantron/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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