When was the last time you opened one file to work on, closed it and moved on to the next task? You don’t remember, right? At this moment, alongside reading this post, you are perhaps listening to music, browsing various open tabs, finishing a report, monitoring tweets and reading e-mail notifications.
Notice the difference between the two instances. One instance had you concentrating on just one task without any distractions, while another showed your attention being shared among several tasks simultaneously. An individual’s ability to initiate one or more tasks while doing another task is multi-tasking.
David Crenshaw, author of “The Myth of Multitasking” and Walter Kim who authored “The Autumn of the Multitaskers”, say that multi-tasking or switch tasking is not a very efficient way of working. It slows down our thinking process as the brain attempts to perform more than one task at a time, with others lag behind during information processing. In short, multi-tasking makes an individual less productive, costs the Company precious time and gives us the individual the feeling that he will not be able to finish work.
To lessen multi-tasking, here are some suggestions from experts:
- Create a list of things to do and prioritize them according to their importance.
- Schedule time to meet people. Let others know that you don’t like to be disturbed at all times.
- Use a planner or calendar to schedule important tasks or meetings.
- Set aside specific time to check mail, tweets and other social networking sites. List time to do activities to avoid distraction.
- If you are speaking to someone, give him your full attention. Avoid working on another task or engaging in another conversation at that time.
- Turn off your mobile, e-mail or chat programs, if your work demands your complete attention.
To be frank, I find it difficult to multi-task, especially at work with jobs that require my full attention. At home, multi-tasking isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Multi-tasking has its share of negatives, such as:
- The quality of work is compromised as one’s attention is divided amongst various tasks.
- The brain’s ability to filter relevant information is slowed down due to interspersing of irrelevant information.
- Distraction is the highest risk to multi-taskers.
- Switching back and forth to doing various tasks takes time, so one takes longer to accomplish things.
- It is damaging to one’s work performance, productivity and interpersonal relationships, both professionally and personally.
Instead, create an environment of focus. Distractions and clutter divert your attention from the task at hand. A little persistence and commitment can get you of the multi-tasking rut. Slow down, do one thing at a time and feel effective and satisfied.
Do share your thoughts in the same.