Multitasking & Anxiety: 2 Destructive Myths Most Companies Still Live By
Myth #1: Anxiety Helps Us Perform
When someone asks you how you feel when you are performing at your best, is “stressed out” one of the terms you use? Not likely. Terms describing our anxious moments are usually associated with our least productive times. It stands to reason then, that anxiety is not a true factor in motivating ourselves or someone else to peak performance. Terms describing our feelings when we are performing at our best are generally positive in nature, such as “in the zone” or “marvelous.” Anxiety may be a factor in producing physical energy or motivation from low points in our lives, but it comes at a cost and it will never drive us to our highs.
Anxiety fogs the mind; we do not think clearly and are more impulsive in our reactions. We do things without thinking them through when we are anxious. In a supervisory role, this type of behavior can have serious implications. Anxious energy, and its unwanted side effects, can have an impact on those you lead. This is especially true if a supervisor is acting on the false notion that creating anxiety is a motivator. Negative emotions are created when a person in authority uses anxiety as a motivator and his/her subordinates are less likely to perform at their best. If a supervisor is acting in anxious manner, this can also have a trickle down effect on his/her subordinates. Successful leaders use stress management techniques to reduce anxiety. They behave in a positive way and create positive energy in the workplace — for positive results.
Myth #2: Multitasking Is More Efficient
Humans lack the ability to perform cognitive tasks simultaneously. When we think we are multitasking, we’re merely juggling focus between tasks. Focus on one always comes at the cost of another. Checking your email while on a conference call? You aren’t actively listening, you’re distracted.
We aren’t robots, our brains suffer a latency in “switching time” between cognitive tasks. Our brains playing catch-up only increases the amount of time it takes to actually finish each task. Contrary to popular opinion, multitasking is extraordinarily inefficient.