Multitasking isn't as efficient as it was once believed to be. Constantly switching your focus from one task to another comes at a cost, decreasing your cognitive ability and productivity. In one study, workers who were interrupted by incoming e-mails or phone calls scored 10 points lower on subsequent IQ tests, comparable to the effects of being up all night or being high on marijuana.
What’s a better approach? Try limiting your interruptions and giving your full attention to one task or activity at a time. When you’re in the exam room, this means focusing on the patient in front of you. Listen fully to the patient’s chief complaint before you start typing in the EHR. Close any applications on your computer that might be a distraction, such as email. Put your phone on silent mode so you aren’t tempted to peek at it if it beeps.
This approach may feel slower, but it will ultimately be more productive – and satisfying.
Read the full FPM article: “The Problem With Multitasking.”
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