I was recently asked this question and here is my answer:

I’m afraid not.

Multitasking is in practice a way of interrupting yourself.

With the world seemingly hellbent on interrupting and distracting us, why add to the interruptions?

From my perspective it is basically the mental or cognitive cost of returning to the original task that is the dealbreaker. If I am prepping for a call or writing a piece and I get interrupted or interrupt myself (say check email), it can take me some time to truly get back into the same thinking space.

There are also host of studies that back this up – I’ve summarized two below. Meyer, one of the lead authors on the 2001 study, has even argued:

“even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time”.
(source: American Psychological Association)

Avoiding multitasking is in fact one of my time principles. Explore my time principles to learn more!

A) “Is Multitasking More Efficient? Shifting Mental Gears Costs Time, Especially When Shifting to Less Familiar Tasks” – Rubinstein, Meyer, and Evans (2001)

This study proposed that multitasking is less efficient than doing a single task at a time. They argued that the time lost in switching between tasks increases with the complexity and unfamiliarity of the tasks.

B) “The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress” – Mark, Gudith and Klocke (2008)

The study found that interruptions led to higher stress, higher frustration, time pressure, and effort to return to the original task.