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Why Multitasking Wastes Time and Money

Eating lunch while typing up that email. Making a phone call while driving to that next appointment.

Multitasking. We've all attempted it, in one way or another, in an attempt to save a little time and help boost our productivity -- and make a little money. With today's technology and huge amounts of information to process, attempting to accomplish two things at once in order to better balance work and pleasure is often difficult to avoid.

But while there is an automatic assumption that multitasking helps a person to be more productive, the opposite is often true. In fact, one study of professionals and office workers found that 28% of the subjects' "time was spent on what they deemed interruptions and recovery time before they returned to their main tasks." The study said this lost time cost companies roughly $650 billion a year in lost productivity.

Since productivity often has a major impact on your personal finances , it's essential to understand why you may be hurting yourself by multitasking even when you think you are improving your time management.

Here are some of the ways that multitasking makes you less efficient:

Easy to get sidetracked: If you are working on the computer and you get an email notification, you may decide to take a few seconds to address the email. The problem is that those few seconds that you intended to spend on the email will likely turn into many minutes, as you check other messages, click on links to Web sites and inadvertently begin working on other tasks, according to Shamsi Iqbal, a computer science researcher at the University of Illinois.

In a study on the habits of Microsoft (MSFT) employees, Iqbal and Eric Horvitz, a former Microsoft colleague, found that workers took "... on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to incoming email or instant messages."
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