Simply put, multitasking is the concurrent execution of numerous tasks. People have always had and still have a natural predisposition to multitask on the pretext that its gets more things done. However, multitasking really is an illusion because in essence, you’ll be doing one task at a time and switching back & forth between other tasks. The truth is, you can consciously & effectively do ONLY one task at a time. The only other things that can occur concurrently are subconscious & you won’t even be aware of that. Especially in this day and age where researchers have found out that human attention spans keep on declining, it surely makes it apparent how multitasking isn’t the way to go.
So Why Doesn’t It Work?
Decreases Your Performance
Focusing on multiple tasks at once exerts a lot of pressure on your mental faculties. Earlier on I alluded to decreasing attention spans; couple that with mental fatigue that comes along with multiple tasks. Resulting in a person will end up operating way below their capacity.
Negative Health Consequences
The human body requires certain things to operate optimally e.g. enough rest, food etc. Multitasking deprives one of the time to get some rest or to take a break and eat something. This is because you’ll be aware that you probably might not finish the tasks in the stipulated time and as such you can’t afford the time to focus on anything else. Some of the consequences of this are stress, fatigue, depression, headaches, muscle strain etc.
Ever heard of the saying “jack of all trades, master of none”? The principle embedded in this saying that we can apply to our subject matter is that you can’t effectively master something by focusing on multiple things. Multitasking leads to the production of ordinary and shoddy results because you disproportionately divide your attention towards the many tasks at hand. Multitasking focuses more on quantity at the expense of quality.
Objectivity Is Eroded
Whenever you have a task to work on, the main objective is to see to it that you fully execute it and accomplish it well. That will cause you to be focused and objective because you know what you have to do. However, when you are multitasking you become more focused in creating a semblance of having at least done all the tasks in the prescribed period. Instead of ensuring the tasks are competently done well, you rather focus on just doing them because you want to beat time.
It Actually Wastes Time
At the beginning I actually pointed out that many people multitask thinking it saves times. Actually it doesn’t. Multitasking, as I discussed earlier, brings about a barrage of complications that reduces your focus, attention span even further & objectivity. Thus, you end up taking a much longer time to finish the tasks. Switching time; the time it takes to switch your mind frame between two different tasks, can be as high as 15 minutes at a time. This means that time is lost in switching between tasks.
What Can You Do About It Then?
Tackle Tasks individually
Sound quite simple but that’s the first step. Focused attention on one task at a time enhances your optimum performance. This is because you’ll be more objective & without any pressure. The multiplier effect is that you’ll actually do more in a much less combined time as opposed to tackling multiple tasks at once. Consider Francesco Cirillo’s pomodoro technique.
Delegation Is Power
A lot of people multitask because they don’t trust other people to do certain things plus they feel it usurps their power or authority. Leaders within business circles tend to fall prey to this. Just know that delegating someone to do something is still consistent with your standing as a leader. The one you delegate to will actual feel trusted and counted on to deliver. So when your plate is full, never hesitate to delegate tasks.
Be Strategic, Systematic & Orderly
At times people are cornered into having to multitask because of not scheduling their tasks well. Procrastination also leads to scenarios where one is cornered to multitask. So it’s important to schedule & prioritize your tasks. When you do that, be disciplined enough to follow through and do as planned. This will increase your effectiveness & efficiency.
Consider Your Immediate Surroundings
There is a lot in our immediate surroundings can end up putting us in scenarios where we have to multitask. When you focus on a task, get rid of anything or any environment that will disrupt you. Get rid of anything that is liable to distract or an interrupt you. Be in the moment & be laser focused!
Declining Doesn’t Hurt Sometimes
Most people end up multitasking because they rope in every task that’s thrown their way. Of course, this depends on your level of authority and all. However, if it’s in your power to turn down some tasks given to you, please do; or either put them off for later. If your current state of being, the setting or your schedule doesn’t effectively cater for the adoption of any more tasks, kindly point it out.
Never be victim to the façade that doing a lot gives you a sense of importance or sophistication. You’ll risk experiencing burn-out by doing that. Always remember that you shouldn’t only work hard but also work efficiently. The idea is to always be at your best so that you accomplish more & in an excellent way. This year make it a point to customize your working experience in such a way that enables you to focus and do all your tasks but doing them one at a time. Lots of people end up having chronic illnesses or even terminal diseases that can be linked to constantly multitasking. Always remember, multitasking is a myth & an illusion.