- On March 3, 2015
Last week I shared an exercise that shows how multi-tasking can impact your productivity. Right on its heels comes an HBR article on the impact of multi-tasking on happiness. “When Multi-Tasking Makes You Happy and When It Doesn’t.”
Jordan Etkin, assistant Professor of Marketing at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and Cassie Mogilner, assistant Professor of Marketing at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, conducted several studies which showed that we generally feel less happywhen we multi-task.
The switching between tasks is exhausting to the mind, as we realized in last week’s experiment. It also makes us feel less productive, like we are not getting enough done…and thus less happy in the short term. People who focused their attention on one kind of activity at a time felt like they got more done and felt happier.
Having made the case for focus, I’ll also say that variety is the spice of life and many people, like me, have an endless list of activities they want to be involved with, professionally and personally.
Variety is also necessary to bring us happiness–in the long term, not minute-by-minute. When we look back over an extended period of time, we tend to feel enriched—and happier–when we have been engaged in doing many different things. If we are only focused on one activity for an extended period of time (days, weeks, months), we may feel like we are missing out and so feel less happy.
Do you want to feel happier? Focus exclusively on the task at hand. AND have a variety of activities you can choose to do.
Photo: Copyright PathDoc @Shutterstock