Avoid multi-tasking – You’re on the phone with a supplier, while quietly typing up notes about your previous phone call. As soon as you hang up, a colleague sends you an instant message, which you read over while dialing your manager’s extension number. During your phone conversation, you start updating your week’s to-do list.
To boost our productivity, many of us multitask like this to some degree. And, in a world where the pace of life is often frantic, people who can multitask are typically seen as efficient and effective.
Actually, multitasking often doesn’t make us as productive as we think. What’s more, it’s likely that the quality of our work is worse when we multitask. In fact, it could actually be costing us time instead of creating it.
The biggest problem with multitasking is that it can lower the quality of our work – we try to do two or more things at once, and the result is that we do everything less well than if we focused properly on each task in turn. For instance, it would be almost impossible to write a good-quality presentation while having an emotionally charged conversation with a co-worker!
Another major downside to multitasking is the effect it has on our stress levels. Dealing with multiple things at once makes us feel overwhelmed, drained, and frazzled. On the other hand, think of how satisfied you feel when you devote your full attention to one task. You’re able to focus, and you’ll probably finish it feeling as if you’ve not only completed something, but done it well.