Apologies for being the bearer of this bad news…
Multitasking is a misconception. We human beings can’t actually multitask.
Let’s dig into this and then look at the good news…
What Happens When We Think We’re Multitasking?
When we think we’re multitasking what we’re actually doing is switching quickly from one thing to another.
The worry is that this switching, aka multitasking, creates the illusion that we’re getting lots done!
That’s one reason we keep multitasking.
Another important reason is because we’re bored: Task-one is too boring to do alone—so we’re seduced to introduce task-two.
The Problems With Multitasking
- Switching back and forth from task-one to task-two takes more of your time than just doing task-one and then tackling task-two. Most people multitask in an effort to increase productivity. But the research tells us that multitasking actually reduces your productivity by around 40%!
- Your lack of focus and concentration predisposes you to errors in both tasks one and two.Alleviating boredom might feel good—for example, ironing whilst watching television, or writing an email whilst you’re on the phone.Except that you want to spend as little time as possible ironing (who wouldn’t), and you want to wear things that are well ironed. But because there was an exciting bit on television, you’ve ironed in crinkles right near the collar of the shirt where it’s obvious.Or the person on the phone notices that you’re distracted, not present in the conversation, and therefore presumes you aren’t very interested in them or their plight.
- As multitaskers, we’re practising being distracted, perhaps even scattered in our thinking.They’re not good qualities to habituate . They’re especially a problem when you want to learn or do something important that demands your concentration.But wait, there’s one more problem that we need to table…
- Your creativity will suffer if you multitask. To be creative you need space and focused attention.
And The Good News Solution Is…
I was tempted to title this Bulletin, “How To Get Things Done”, which is really what it’s about.
Fortunately the bad news about multitasking points us clearly to what you can do instead to get more done…
Your Leadership Call To Action
Here’s the plan that will have you increasing the quantity and quality of your work:
- Remove any distractions that could result in your thoughts being distracted or scattered.
- Focus on your highest priority task—and only that task until you’re happy that it’s sufficiently complete for the moment. Only then are you allowed to move onto task-two.
I promise you, if you’ve been multitasking, this plan will have you being more productive and making fewer silly errors. It’ll also help you develop a more focused, more creative mind.
Sound good? I think so.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.