Neil H. Baum, MD, presented “The Myth of Multitasking” for the Grand Rounds in Urology audience in January 2021.

How to cite: Baum, Neil H. “The Myth of Multitasking” January 2021. Accessed May 2024.

The Myth of Multitasking – Summary

Grand Rounds in Urology Contributing Editor Neil H. Baum, MD, Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School, discusses the pitfalls of multitasking. He outlines the illusory thinking behind multitasking and its impact on productivity, and then offers solutions. Dr. Baum notes that multitasking often causes people to feel as though they are accomplishing more in a shorter period of time, but the opposite is actually true. Not only does multitasking decrease the quality of work performed, it also creates a vicious cycle: stress levels increase, which increases cortisol levels leading to impeded cognitive functioning, thereby further increasing stress. Dr. Baum notes that it takes approximately 25 minutes to refocus after an interruption, meaning doctors can lose up to two hours a day by multitasking. This ultimately creates unnecessary financial cost and contributes to feelings of burnout. Dr. Baum advises that physicians practice “unitasking,” or working on a single task at a time, take short breaks between tasks, and reduce distractions, especially during patient visits. He concludes by sharing several technology solutions, such as wearable sensors and free apps, that can help block out disruptions.

For more commentary from Dr. Baum, visit his Improving Your Urology Practice page.