Doing Less with More: Multitasking, Technology, and Ergonomics

Furniture & Culture: How Your Office's Design can Affect Your Businnes


Why Doing More Can Lead to Less

By Christian Roemer

What if I told you that multitasking isn't just bad for your work, but that it's literally impossible?

Researchers have found that our traditional conception of what multitasking is—doing multiple things at one time in order to save time—isn't possible for the human brain. Instead, what they learned is that the brain actually has to switch from one thought stream to another, turning one off before turning the other on. The result is that the brain processes those tasks more inefficiently and loses processing power at the same time.

This research has massive implications for our modern workspace, especially in regards to technology and ergonomics.

Switching between tasks can impose massive hits on productivity, accuracy, efficiency. That's why minimizing unwanted distractions can improve almost every aspect of your work day.

Most multitasking researchers focus primarily on attention grabbing tasks like instant message chats, employee interruptions, and cell phone buzzes. But there's another hidden culprit that may be stealing your brainpower: an uncomfortable working environment.

. . . removing as many unwanted distractions as possible will greatly improve your concentration, efficiency, and ability to perform well while at work.

Since researchers have shown that the brain can't concentrate on two tasks simultaneously, any added bodily pain or discomfort will throw your focus into disorder. The good news is that there are simple tools you can use to improve your desk's comfort.

  • Lower Back Pain: The culprit for this ailment most likely comes from improper back support from your seat. Put a pillow or rolled up towel at the bottom of your backrest for added lower back support. For a more long-term solution, look into a new ergonomic task chair. If you already sit in a responsive chair, you may need to adjust your seat height so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Neck and Shoulder Pain: The most common cause of neck and shoulder pain is having a seat height that's incompatible with your desk height. Reaching for a keyboard or leaning over your paperwork causes strain in your upper back region. Sit up straight and make sure your forearms are parallel to the ground. A keyboard tray and properly adjusted chair can help alleviate those pesky shoulder and neck knots.
  • Eye Strain and Headaches: It's not hard to guess that your monitor is to blame here. Make sure that the top of your monitor is at eye level and about an arm's reach away. Put your viewing surface on a set of books or a box for a quick fix or get a monitor arm for a more ergonomic solution.
  • Drowsiness and Lack of Attention: You've gotta move more! Sitting down for long periods isn't bad in itself, but not getting up and warming up your muscles throughout the day is. Taking regular walking breaks will keep your mind sharp and your blood flowing.

Technology and the rise of multitasking have created increasingly stressful and chaotic work environments. If turning off your cell phone and getting away from Janice in accounting aren't options in your work place, minimalizing distractions from bodily discomfort is something you can do. Since multitasking isn't humanly possible, removing as many unwanted distractions as possible will greatly improve your concentration, efficiency, and ability to perform well while at work.

Maybe the cheesy motivational poster in your boss's office that says, “Work Smarter, Not Harder” was right all along.

Smart Furniture has the tools and resources to help make your workspace better. Call our sales team at 888.979.5178 or read the articles below for help. Your pain-free workspace is just a couple of clicks away!