To Multitask Or Not To Multitask – That Is The Question!

Published on May 3, 2011 by Anne Raymond


Do you sometimes feel bogged down with an increasing list of things to do? Cut backs and layoffs have dramatically increased the work load and pressure these days.  When you've got a lot on your plate  (and who doesn't these days?), it's sometimes easy to get overwhelmed.  This actually slows you down even more and makes decisions next to impossible.

It also sometimes causes the "multitasking spin".  You start one thing, and then another, and then another and it takes a long time to get anything done.   Many people I know pride themselves on being able to multitask many things at once!  What a great way of getting lots done!   Or is it?
Studies have shown that it could take up to six-times longer to do a task if you are trying to multitask while doing it. Multitasking takes longer, is mentally draining, and zaps your creativity and efficiency.

Our brains or set up for processing single things at a time. It takes a long time for your brain to start, then stop, and start again.  I think this even gets worse with age! 🙂

So when should you multitask and when you should you NOT? The answer really depends!  It depends on WHAT you are doing and WHEN you are doing it.

While smaller task-oriented activities are great for multitasking, some higher level strategy or planning or getting some big thinking work done multitasking is a DISASTER. So the real key is to know yourself and train yourself to multitask on SOME activities and Singletask (as I like to call it) on others.

Some great Multitask activities:
-Making several phone calls, updating your calendar when on-hold, making notes about your next phone call while waiting for someone to return your call
-Making dinner and helping a child with their homework
-what are yours?

Some great Singletask activities (that you really need to CARVE out some chunks of time to do):
-Creating a vision and priorities of what to focus on
-ANY BIG-thinking work (we just don’t seem to have or make time to think any more these days)
-Important meetings
-Writing an article or email
-Doing a presentation
-what are yours?

So next time, you start to multitask, just ask yourself the question.  Will I get more done faster if I focus on this one thing right now?  If not, then multitask away!