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Multitasking has been long believed to represent the ultimate in productivity. After all, isn’t it better to do three things at once, instead of one? If you answered “yes” to this question, you’ll be shocked to hear that this practice is actually the opposite of productive.

Stanford University researchers conducted a study on multitasking and found that it is less effective than completing one task at a time. Additionally, the team found that people who are constantly hit with several streams of electronic information at once cannot focus, remember information or move from one task to the next as efficiently as those who finish one assignment at a time.

Consider yourself the exception to this rule? Not so fast. The Stanford researchers compared workers based on their penchant for multitasking and their conviction that it makes them perform better. The results revealed that frequent multitaskers are actually worse at multitasking than those who make a habit of accomplishing one thing at a time. Frequent multitaskers couldn’t measure up, because they had difficulty organizing their thoughts and filtering out extraneous information. Plus, they actually took longer switching between tasks.

3 Ways to Change Multitasking Habits

Ready to stop multitasking once and for all? Make room in your day to focus on one thing at a time by following these three tips:

  1. Schedule Your Day. Create a to-do list at the beginning of each day, so you know exactly what you need to accomplish before heading home. Prioritize tasks to make time for the most important ones first, and plan some extra room in your day so last-minute assignments and unexpected distractions don’t throw a wrench in your productivity.
  2. Learn to Delegate. Managers have a lot on their plate. It’s no surprise that you’re forced to multitask if you’re not delegating assignments out to your team. Not only will this allow you to focus on one thing at a time, it will also give your team the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities and grow their skills.
  3. Know Your Limits. It’s important to learn how to say “no” when you’ve reached your maximum capacity. You’re only one person. If you’re constantly being pulled in 10 different directions and flooded with an endless amount of work, you can’t be expected to do the great work you’re capable of.

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