Content advisory 14+ We are all keen on multitasking. We love it probably for the rush it gives as much as for what we imagine it accomplishes. A role model? We worship the manic magic of the multi-tasker. We pay a higher salary to acquire the gymnastic cerebral services of these mental contortionists and thumb our noses at the plodding, slo-mo guys who can’t keep up. I mean. would YOU hire a worker who says that she (or he) cannot multitask? Who proclaimed himself to be a mere “one-at-a-time tasker” ??
Well, here is the bad news. The sad fact is that actually multitasking is ineffective (please do not mix with background tasks, shall explain later).
Try this: write down a line of any text you like, even your name and last name. While writing, please put the number of each letter under it, just like this
So, if it would be multitasking, you should write like A 1 R 2, etc. Please note the time it took for you to do this.
Now, write your name and last name, after that write the number of each letter under it. It is task-by-task exercise, and shall look for your brain like this: ARTEM 123456. Note the time it took.
Generally, the second option will give you 28% better timing, sometimes more.
Here comes the show.
If you try to force yourself or your employees to multitask, you are losing time and efficiency. The human brain cannot actually multitask. It switches from one task to another, and the lost time is the so-called “switching loss”, as we cannot do it immediately, we need to focus on the other task and only after that are able to work on it (computers do the same, they just switch faster - try closing other programs while doing something CPU-consuming).
However, multitasking should not be confused with background tasks, like walking and talking simultaneously, which is actually effective and possible, yet only if this comes in the form of an action which does not require the brain to focus on it.
Back to multitasking, the really bad thing is that constant multitasking is damaging to the neurons and can potentially lead to the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which occurs when a person eventually loses the capacity to work on a certain project for a proper period of time.
Basically, you are not effective at all if you switch more than once in 15 minutes; you are effective if you can focus on a task for at least 40 minutes, better an hour.
Wait, I should reply to my WhatsApp till I get back here…
Ok, keep reading, I’m with you, just a short reply…
Oh, yes, new e-mail, I should check, I think it is urgent, I’m really sorry, but keep reading, I’m still paying my attention…
Ok, last message in Telegram and I’m back on track of the article.
Here am I.
Where have we stopped?...
Annoying, isn’t it? That’s what we usually do to our colleagues and friends (and many of us - to our families), holding the phone in our hand, constantly distracting us from the conversation or the meeting, or even routine work, making it last much longer, taking much more effort and ending up with a headache, plus feeling like a squeezed lemon at the end of the day.
Companies lose millions because of that. Their employees could have done much more if they were time-efficient, if they performed their tasks step-by-step, task-by-task, paying proper attention to each one.
Think of it. Add 20% revenue to your BS. Does it worth trying?
I actually can multitask (if we are speaking about general perception). But should I? I’m actually still considering it and calculating. For now I see that it is better not to. But wait a minute, I’ve just got a phone call, and, damn, two new emails just jumped on the screen...and I am in a new restaurant checking out the menu, but my smart-watch that monitors my pulse-rate is signaling...and...my wife just said something, what was that dear? -- hang on everybody, I have to check these new Telegram and WhatsUp messages, and what about that new Instagram…..and...just Wait a Second, OK???.... What did you say, dear? ….and...”