The Science Behind Productivity

The Science Behind Productivity


No matter your job or how high up in the ranks you are, we all want the same thing; to be more productive. The more you can get done in the day means the more time you can spend at home relaxing with the family or to taking an actual vacation. Science shows that there is a reason why one person is more productive than the other. And the answer isn’t multitasking.

Why multitasking is bad

It is a common misconception that multitasking is the way to get more things done in less time. That could be, but what scientists have found that multitasking is not good for you at all. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains, “You’re not actually doing both activities at the same time, in fact, you’re now diverting your attention from one part of your brain to another part of your brain. That takes time, that takes resources, that takes brain cells. What happens on the other side of the brain is that you’re starting a brand new activity, so in fact you’re probably slower and not nearly as good at doing both activities at the same time.” You can see this with everyday tasks like texting and driving or being on the phone while cooking dinner. When you try to do two things at once, something is bound to get hurt in the process.

The supertaskers

Cognitive psychologist David Strayer of the University of Utah was the first one to discover what he calls a “supertasker.” Strayer defines a supertasker as “someone who can juggle two demanding tasks without pausing or making mistakes.” He stumbled upon this phenomenon during his 2009 experiment. In the experiment, people were using a driving simulator while being asked to memorize the order of words that were integrated with simple math problems. Sounds easier than said. Strayer found that many participants either crashed their car, were caught tailgating, or couldn’t figure out that math equation. Out of all the participants, Strayer found one that was able to do all three at once. Using brain imaging, he was able to see that there was indeed a difference between a supertasker’s brain versus an ordinary one.  A supertasker somehow has less metabolic activity in one neuro network when faced with doing more than one task at once. Whatever it is that is creating this “bottleneck” effect is what causes one person to efficiently do more than one thing at a time.

Ways to be productive

There are various ways on how to become a more productive person. It starts with evaluating your habits to find what it is that is holding you back from being productive. If you don’t know where to start, its worth looking into what others do that helps them use their time more efficiently. For instance, take what the top CEOs have to say about the matter. You’ll find that they get up early, delegate their time, and keep a strict exercise and sleep routine.

As stated above, not everyone can be a supertasker and has to find another strategy to be productive. Our Personal Productivity course teaches both students and professionals strategies to increase productivity. Find out more today!

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