Everybody multitasks. Some more than others.
You know, simultaneously several things (like talking on the phone when cooking) … or, switching back-and-forth among tasks.
Hard core multitaskers swear that their modus operandi makes them more productive … that it gives them a competitive advantage.
But, research suggests that while multitasking may help us feel productive, it may actually be paring our productivity.
According to the Washington Post, a group called Common Sense Media did a study that takes aim at multitasking.
Michael Robb, the group’s director of research, concludes that multitasking should no longer be seen as “some desirable trait that makes you the best 21st-century worker.”
He says that multitasking is a problem in a couple of ways:
Constant reorientation (i.e. bouncing back-and-forth among tasks) causes cognitive fatigue.
Cognitive fatigue can decrease your ability to get things done well, and can actually slow the rate of work.
When you’re multitasking, you’re not you’re not fully encoding memories.
If you’re browsing on Facebook while someone is talking, you’re not fully embedding memories that you may need to retrieve later.
Heavy multitaskers have a hard time filtering out irrelevant information.
In other words, they subconsciously treat all information they came across with equal weight instead of allotting more attention to the most credible and important.
Bottom line: Don’t confuse activity with results.
Sometimes, it makes more sense to “focus & complete” than to just keep a bunch of plates spinning.
As a former boss repeatedly told me “I pay you for finished goods, not work-in-process.”