Do you often find yourself juggling multiple tasks at once, thinking that you’re being productive? Unfortunately, research shows that multitasking can actually have a negative impact on your decision making abilities.

This phenomenon is known as the interference effect, which occurs when attempting to complete multiple tasks simultaneously impairs your ability to make sound judgments. The interference effect is a result of the brain’s limited capacity for attention and focus.

When you switch back and forth between tasks, your brain has to constantly readjust and refocus, which can lead to mental fatigue and decreased cognitive performance. In this article, we’ll explore the interference effect in more detail, and provide strategies for avoiding multitasking in order to improve your decision making abilities.

Understanding the Interference Effect


You’re going to love learning about how trying to do multiple things at once can really mess with your ability to think clearly and make good choices. This phenomenon is known as the interference effect, and it occurs when we try to focus on multiple tasks at the same time.

It’s important to understand that our brain is not designed to multitask, and when we attempt to do so, it leads to a decline in our cognitive abilities. When we try to do multiple things at once, our brain has to constantly switch between tasks. This constant switching leads to a depletion of mental resources, which can lead to poor decision-making.

The interference effect is particularly harmful when we’re trying to make decisions that require a high level of concentration and attention to detail. The interference effect can also have long-term consequences on our brain. Studies have shown that people who engage in multitasking on a regular basis have a smaller hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and spatial navigation.

This means that multitasking not only affects our ability to make decisions in the short-term, but it can also have lasting effects on our brain function. In conclusion, the interference effect is a real phenomenon that can have a significant impact on our ability to make good decisions. It’s important to recognize that our brain is not designed to multitask, and that attempting to do so can lead to a decline in our cognitive abilities.

By focusing on one task at a time, we can ensure that we’re able to make clear and informed decisions.

Strategies for Avoiding Multitasking


To avoid juggling too many tasks at once, try focusing on one task at a time. Research has found that people who multitask experience a 40% drop in productivity. This means that if you’re working on a project and constantly checking your phone or email, you’re not giving your full attention to the task at hand. This can lead to mistakes and a longer completion time. Instead, try setting aside specific times to check your messages or take a break. This ensures that you’re fully focused on your work when you’re working.

Another strategy for avoiding multitasking is to prioritize your tasks. Make a list of everything you need to do and then rank them in order of importance. Start with the most critical task and work your way down the list. This helps you stay focused on what’s most important and can reduce the temptation to switch between tasks. Additionally, breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones can help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed.

Creating a distraction-free environment can also help you avoid multitasking. This means finding a quiet workspace, turning off notifications on your phone and computer, and avoiding social media and other distractions. By removing external distractions, you can better focus on the task at hand and increase your productivity. Additionally, taking breaks and practicing mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing can help reduce stress and increase focus.

In summary, avoiding multitasking is key to improving productivity and decision making. By focusing on one task at a time, prioritizing your tasks, creating a distraction-free environment, and taking breaks, you can improve your ability to complete tasks efficiently and effectively. Remember to give yourself grace and patience as you work towards breaking the habit of multitasking – it takes time and practice, but the results are worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common misconceptions about multitasking and its effects on decision making?

If you’re under the impression that multitasking leads to increased productivity and better decision making, you might want to rethink your approach. Despite what many people believe, multitasking doesn’t actually help you get more done.

In fact, studies have shown that it can actually harm your decision-making abilities, leading to poorer performance and increased errors. This is because when you try to do multiple things at once, your brain has to constantly switch between tasks, which takes time and mental energy.

As a result, you may find yourself making more mistakes and struggling to focus on important tasks. So, if you want to make better decisions and be more productive, it’s best to focus on one task at a time and avoid the temptation to multitask.

How do individual differences, such as age or personality, impact the interference effect and the ability to avoid multitasking?

Did you know that age and personality play a significant role in our ability to avoid multitasking?

According to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, older adults tend to have a harder time avoiding multitasking than younger adults. Additionally, individuals with a higher need for stimulation and sensation-seeking tendencies are more likely to engage in multitasking behaviors.

These findings suggest that individual differences should be taken into account when addressing the negative effects of multitasking on decision making. Being aware of your personal tendencies can help you improve your ability to focus on one task at a time and make better decisions.

Can certain types of tasks be successfully multitasked without negatively impacting decision making?

You may wonder if certain tasks can be successfully multitasked without negatively impacting decision making. While it’s possible to switch between tasks quickly and efficiently, research has shown that attempting to multitask can actually lead to decreased productivity and accuracy in decision making.

However, some tasks may be more easily combined than others. Simple, routine tasks that require little cognitive effort, like listening to music while doing chores, may not have a significant impact on decision making. But for more complex tasks that require focused attention and decision making, like driving while talking on the phone, the risk of negative consequences increases.

Ultimately, it’s best to prioritize tasks and focus on one at a time to optimize decision making and productivity.

Are there any long-term consequences to regularly multitasking and experiencing interference effects?

You may think that juggling multiple tasks at once is the key to productivity, but the truth is that regularly multitasking could lead to long-term consequences.

Over time, constantly switching between tasks can cause interference effects that negatively impact your decision-making skills.

It’s like trying to drive a car while constantly changing gears, ultimately leading to a slower and less efficient ride.

These consequences may not be immediately noticeable, but they can accumulate over time and affect your overall performance.

So, it’s important to prioritize focus and avoid the temptation of multitasking if you want to make the best decisions and achieve your goals in the long run.

How can organizations effectively educate their employees on the negative impacts of multitasking and encourage them to avoid it?

If you want to educate your employees about the negative impacts of multitasking and encourage them to avoid it, start by setting clear priorities and expectations.

Communicate the importance of focused attention and the risks of splitting their attention between tasks. Offer training and resources that teach techniques for time management and staying on task.

Encourage breaks and rest to avoid burnout, and model healthy work habits yourself.

By promoting a culture of mindfulness and intentional work, you can help your team work smarter, not harder.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated through the dangers of multitasking and learned about the interference effect.

Just like a busy chef trying to cook multiple dishes at once, attempting to do multiple tasks simultaneously can lead to a decrease in the quality of your decision making.

Remember, the brain is not designed to handle multiple tasks at once, and attempting to do so can lead to a drop in productivity and an increase in errors.

By avoiding multitasking and using strategies such as prioritizing tasks and avoiding distractions, you can improve your decision making and ultimately achieve greater success in your personal and professional life.

So, take a moment to reflect on your own habits and see where you can make improvements.

Just like a skilled chef who knows the importance of focusing on one dish at a time, you too can become a master of your own productivity and decision making by avoiding the interference effect of multitasking.