You and I and millions of other people across the world thrive on keeping busy to better maximize the limited amount of time we have. In the speed race of today’s business culture of wearing so many different hats and getting things done, it’s easy to want to aspire to become like those super busy people we admire who always seem to be tackling 2o things at the same time. The question is do we really have limited time and how much productivity is achieved when we tackle so many tasks at the same time.
The word multitasking is defined as the activity of doing more than one thing at the same time., To a certain degree our lives are dependent on some form or level of multitasking in our personal and professional lives. There are other levels of multitasking that researchers have found to be detrimental to healthy functioning of the human mind and body and may actually slow down your productivity. Multitasking is the buzz word of many corporate environments; resumes and interviews tend to not be complete without the phrase “my ability to effectively multitask”.
Many experts including business coach Dave Crenshaw argues that the usual types of multitasking that we are all used to engaging in doesn’t boost productivity—it actually slows you down. In his new book, The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done, Crenshaw explains the difference between “background tasking”—like watching TV while exercising—and what he calls “switchtasking,” juggling two tasks by refocusing your attention back and forth between them, and losing time and progress in the switch. Crenshaw’s goal is to reduce stress, distractions, and burn-out while creating avenues that let individuals see through tasks with their full attention before moving onto the next thing.
It has become socially and culturally celebrated to multitask and most people really think it increases productivity. I invite you to think on these a little bit. Think about your typical day and the progression of each activity that you concurrently engaged in throughout the day. How did you feel at the end of the day? If you felt extremely elated and accomplished then you probably thrive on the adrenaline high which is only temporary. If you felt stressed then the recommendation is to take control, Crenshaw offers a few tips for reducing switch tasking and making better use of your time.
You have control over technology: Your cell phone ringer (even on vibrate) doesn’t need to be on all the time. You can turn off email notification on your computer as well. Become master over the nagging beeps and buzzes by creating some silence.
Schedule as much as possible :Set regular times in the day and week to check your voicemail and email. Inform people that you will be using that schedule so they know when to expect a reply.
Don’t lose sight of the person :When you switchtask when dealing with a computer, you simply lose efficiency. But if you switchtask on a human being, you additionally damage a relationship. Be present, listen carefully, and make sure everything has been taken care of before moving on.
Kemi Adegbite 2011