If you’re like many people you spend most days/times multitasking. And you’re probably so used to it that you don’t even realise when you’re doing it.
Many employers look for this skill in their employees coz many believe it saves time and all that.
I used to be a firm believer of multitasking, in fact I lived by it. As a woman, I was one of those who prided themselves on multitasking better than men, do I hear an “amen?”!
Anyway, now that I’m a mom, I find I multitask naturally. However, there’ve been many times I’ve slapped myself on the hand for multitasking. I think I now feel it’s better to focus instead of multitask as focusing lets me concentrate on one task or thought at a time, helping me create a better result for each task.
For example, talking to a friend while watching lil’ Tasha has made me regret many times as she’s either ended up ripping the place apart while I was chatting OR she’s done something irreparable. Now I just have long phone conversations (more than 10mins long) when she’s asleep or not with me at the time. I focus on one thing at a time.
You’re probably thinking that’s in the mummy world, right?
Well, don’t lose me here… Many people like to multitask because they become bored working on one task at a time, so let me take this opportunity to explain why I think multitasking isn’t necessarily a good thing sometimes (if not all the time).
Bear in mind that with multitasking you’re switching from task to task. This takes time for your mind to change into the right mindset for the new task. As such, you have to take the time to remember where you left off. So the downsides of multi-tasking:
1. It turns people off when you are interacting with them.
1 of my pet-peeves is having a conversation with someone who’s either texting or concentrating on something else. Suddenly there’s a smile on their face when what you’re discussing isn’t sweet enough for a smile, or they shout “yay” when there’s no win. You get my point?
If you’ve ever tried a conversation with someone who’s focusing on two things in one go, you’ve probably felt like you needed to repeat yourself or felt annoyed with them coz they weren’t listening, right? My daughter is not even 2 years old but I know when I pay half attention to her she feels it and she reacts in her toddler way.
In life we often come in contact with other people while we’re multitasking and if/when we pay half attention to people, we lose their respect.
2. You’re less likely to finish one quality project.
Projects worked on while multitasking may be finished on-time BUT they will most likely be sub-par as compared to if they had been focused solely on until completion. I know this very well – if I try and do two things at once, I end up either having to do part of the work all over again or my work will be mediocre!
3. You’re less productive
Switching between tasks is counter-productive. I find I lose time and concentration every time I switch to a different task. As such I work on one task from start to finish, then move on to the other upon completion of one task. Never two tasks in one-go UNLESS they’re related.
4. It can lead to attention and memory loss
Not sure if you’ve heard that some studies carried out at Harvard recently found people who use online social media and other forms of electronic communications have trouble focusing their attention and have lower scores on memory tests. This is usually because they try to multitask – could be talking to someone while posting on social media.
5. Diminishes cognitive performance
This one is a tricky one as it tricks the mind. Apparently a recent study carried out at Ohio State University showed that multitasking caused students to feel more productive, but yet showed they were actually reducing their cognitive skills abilities. It’s all in the mind ey!
With mutitasking, you split your brain causing it to frantically switch between tasks/activities.
6. Less efficient
Multitasking makes it difficult to focus on one task at a time. If you are thinking about the next task on your To-Do list while doing something, chances are you’re causing yourself stress. You’re trying to multitask but you’re losing time. You aren’t focusing, right?
In Summary, I believe instead of multitasking among several tasks, we should prioritise our tasks and break them up into workable time chunks. Ensure when we carry out tasks we focus on those at hand, otherwise we fall victims to the above.
Check out my post on Increasing Productivity.
Do you multitask? Would love to hear your thoughts/comments on the above