Productivity at Work: Debunking Multitasking

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Multitasking, don’t do it, it could be keeping you from reaching your full potential.

In todays’ work environment we are expected to stretch out our mental bandwidth beyond it’s productive capacity. Being constantly busy has been directly correlated with efficiency and value at the workplace. Additionally, the ability to multitask is seen as a virtue, and those who posses it or practice it hold their heads high with pride. But just how productive are you really? This post is intended to uncover the truth behind the myth of multitasking and proposes an alternative take on how best to tackle your to-do list.

Debunking multitasking


In theory, true multitasking is the ability to concentrate on two tasks at the same time. In reality, this is not possible. Switching gears and centring your focus  from one task to another quickly without losing traction or train of thought might sound impressive but it’s risky.  Research has shown that multitasking can lower your IQ. Put that in your pipe and smoke it next time you consider writing an email while in a meeting.  Attempting to accomplish more than one task at once is also a huge waste of time. According to a study in the International Journal of Information Management, it takes us an average of about 64 seconds to resume a previous task after having disrupted it. This, of course, affects the quality of our work.  How satisfied are we, at the end of the day, with the quality of work that we produce? So how efficient are we being?

Technology not only encourages but also adds to the list of external pressures which drive towards multitasking. All the devices, tools and apps that are created to save us time and increase productivity all condone and/or facilitate multitasking.   Our daily and consistent interaction with these devices actually slow us down. More than anything they are distractions keeping us from focusing. Another study from Stanford University shows that the large amount of information that is presented to us on a regular basis is contributing to the increased incapacity to learn. We are having a harder time paying attention, retaining and remembering the information that is presented to us.

If you identify yourself as a multi-tasker it might be time to rethink your work routine.

We need to take an old school approach, step back from being the Jack of all trades and master of none. Isn’t it better to execute one thing thoughtfully than multiple things mediocrely? Reallocate your time and your energy into completing your fundamental tasks, those that are the most important and present the highest potential for long term results. Restructure your priorities (as in, have less of them, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.) Organize your time and schedule blocks to work on each prioritized tasks and avoid distractions. In conclusion, be great at less things instead of average at many.




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