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Multitasking is a Myth

Tired of Multitasking?

How often do you hear people to refer to “having many balls in the air” and that’s why they need to multitask. Don’t get stuck in your business thinking that multitasking will lead to greater work efficiency and productivity.  It won’t.

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Let’s take the case of a juggler. He is focused on one task, making sure that he can grab the bowling pins, or whatever he is juggling, without any of them falling. He is NOT multitasking. He is not trying to email, work on a spreadsheet, talk on the phone and conduct a business meeting all at the same time. So the concept of ‘juggling many balls in the air’ is actually not a good analogy for multitasking.

What happens when the juggler loses his concentration. No surprise – those pins drop to the ground and he has to start all over again. There is a cost to multitasking. It’s often small and insidious. But it is cumulative. And it is pervasive in businesses as their is increased demand on employees to get more done, in less time and with fewer resources.
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Click here to Test your Multitasking Skills

( Thanks to Dave Crenshaw, Invaluable Inc., www.davecrenshaw.com)

What is Multitasking? Is it a reality or are we just fooling ourselves by thinking our brains can actually do two or more complex tasks at the same time? Perhaps we are just switching from one task to the other very quickly and that’s what we consider to be multitasking.

Mirriam Websters dictionary defines Multitasking as

: the concurrent performance of several jobs by a computer
and/or
2: the performance of multiple tasks at one time/to work at several different tasks simultaneously

The origin of the word having started in 1966. The word derived from the advancement in computer technology and the need/desire to build more powerful computers. Obvously, humans are not computers, but neither are computers humans.

What I mean is that a computer is really not occupying two spaces at the same time. That would defy the laws of physics. It is just quicker and more efficient at switching back and forth between certain tasks. What appears to be multitasking by a computer is just a super powerful super fast blink of the eye. Like looking at the wings of a hummingbird in slow motion.

Multitasking is essentially a series of switches between one task and another. This is how a computer is capable of spewing out in lightening speed what it would take humans hours, days and sometimes years to accomplish. And what happens to a computer? It gets hot. It uses a lot of energy. We are not computers. We don’t have limited energy, limited time. Don’t get stuck thinking you can be in two places at the same time. The laws of Physics are against you.

The core lesson that has been supported time and again by researchers is that time management and focus lead to greater efficiency and productivity than switching tasks in a multitasking process.

Organizations get stuck with the concept of multitasking by expecting people to do more than can be done in a shorter amount of time. Something has to give. Quality suffers, employee morale suffers, costs go up, consumer service goes down.

There is no magic bullet.

Terms/Concepts

Multi-tasking, Switch Tasking, Time Management, Focus, Business Efficiency, The Paradox of Choice

The Big Picture (Episode Feature) Question

Do you ever really focus on just ONE thing for more than 10 minutes at a time before being distracted?

Tip/Offer of the Week

How good are you at Multitasking? Let’s find out. This simple exercise from the author of The Myth of Multitasking, Dave Crenshaw, shows that the cost (in time) of switching tasks in the pursuit of being more efficient.

Additional Reading/Links


 

 

 



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Joel Goobich is a big-picture guy with sharp insight into how individual parts make a strong whole. He has 30+ years of entrepreneurial endeavors; starting, building and exiting businesses. He is tireless in the pursuit of solutions to boost your business and put you on a track to a profitable transition and exit to your next act.