Let’s start with a challenge. You must participate exactly as instructed. Ready to start multitasking?
Here’s the challenge. Get a pen or pencil, a sheet of paper, and stopwatch. Your phone will do if it has a stopwatch feature. Do not read any further if you do not have all of these in hand.
Now that you have all three, hit start on your timer or stopwatch and write the word multitasking. Stop the timer as soon as you’ve finished. Do not read any further until you’ve finished this challenge.
How long did it take you? I’m going to venture a guess and say it took you between 5 and 7 seconds. Am I right? Yes, I’ve done this a few times.
Again, get your pen, paper, and stopwatch. Write the numbers 1 through 12 in order. Begin the timer when you start and hit stop when you’ve finished. I bet it took you between 5 and 7 seconds. I’m right again, aren’t I?
Once again, get your pen, paper, and stopwatch. This time interchange the letters of the word multitasking with the numbers 1 through 12. Like this M 1 U 2 L 3 T 4….until you’ve written the whole word and all the numbers 1 through 12. Go! Did it take you about 30 to 35 seconds?
I’ve just debunked the theory of multitasking being a productive way to work.
While you were focused on one single task, whether it be writing the word or series of numbers, you were focused. On the other hand, while you were trying to accomplish two things at once, you were challenged to stay on track, to remember the next step. As a result, you probably even missed a letter or number. Didn’t you? So much for accuracy.
It actually took you 3 times the amount of time to accomplish the same two tasks when you tried to do them at the same time! Now that’s inefficiency! That’s multitasking!
Multitasking is the opportunity to mess multiple things up at once and take longer to do it!
Still unsure if I’m right? Try the next challenge.
Get your timer out again. Hit start and recite Mary Had a Little Lamb. Ready….go!
How long did it take you? About 4 to 5 seconds?
Again, reset your timer and hit start and recite Jack and Jill. It probably took you 4 to 6 seconds. Right? No, I’m not watching you. I’ve just trained organizations for years on how to be efficient, effective, and productive with their time.
Reset your timer. Hit start and recite Mary Had a Little Lamb and Jack and Jill, interchanging the works. Like this…Mary Jack Had And A Jill Little Went ….. Ready? Go!
How long did that take you? Could you even get half way through? Did you laugh? Were you frustrated? You probably just gave up. I’m willing to guess that you did all the above. I’m also certain that you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do.
Why? Because you were multitasking! How many mistakes did you make? And how many times did you hesitate? How did it make you feel? A little overwhelmed? Unsuccessful?
That’s exactly what multitasking does. Yet we are proud of our multitasking ability. We announce it on our resumes as if it were some great expertise that we’ve mastered. “Great at multitasking!”We make it a requirement in job postings. “Must be able to multitask.”
Requiring multitasking to be a skill for a job requirement is like demanding that someone throw their time and your money out the window as quickly as possible, and then, and only then, will you hire them.
If someone says they are great at multitasking, challenge them to these two examples. Or have them type up a 2-paragraph description of why they want to work for you…while you continue to talk to them.
Here are your top 5 reasons that multitasking is a waste of time and money.
It takes the average person approximately 5 minutes to refocus once they’ve been distracted.
While you’re responding to an email the phone rings. Rather than continuing to finish the task at hand, email, you answer it, still distracted by the email. The caller needs something from you. Whether it’s to schedule an appointment, check the availability of a product, or just answer a basic question. Your mind must shift to fill their need. Once you’ve ended the conversation you now must shift your mind back to the email at hand….if you can remember what you were doing before the phone rang. How many times have you thought “now what was I doing?” It takes several minutes for your brain to adjust back to the previous task.
Multitasking is the opportunity to mess two things up at once.
Maybe you’re the person who continues to type while you have a phone conversation. How many times have you typed what you or the other person was saying? We’ve all done it. How about the last time you were talking on the phone and putting groceries away? Have you ever found something where it didn’t belong? That’s because you were multitasking.
It’s a complete waste of time.
Time is the most precious thing we have. We have no control over time, only control over our use of it. Why would you spend twice the amount of time or three times the amount of time to accomplish something? I challenge you to spend your day as you usually do, “multitasking”. Then, spend the next day doing things in blocks of time. Not possible? Sure it is. You can read more about The Top 6 Time Management Strategies That are Proven to work! here.
People will feel like you just don’t care.
I worked for a multitasker for two years. Every day it was the same routine. “How was your day Crystel?” As he looked through his phone, responded to texts and emails while responding to “my day” with mm hm’s and uh huh’s…..never looking up. Inevitably he would have to ask the same questions over and over again. Because he was multitasking. I certainly didn’t feel like he cared. It was as if I didn’t matter at all. Have you ever walked into a business and while waiting on you, the customer service person answered the phone and suddenly you were having a conversation through sign as they point to the card reader? How did that make you feel? Have you ever been in the middle of checking out of a doctors office and the receptionist answered the phone? You just became less important didn’t you?
Finally, there is no sense of accomplishment.
How often do you leave work thinking “I was so busy today but I didn’t get anything done!”? Well, you were right. You were busy alright, busy multitasking, not accomplishing. Have you ever left work feeling overwhelmed and you had nothing to show for all your efforts for the day? That’s because multitasking didn’t allow you to finish any one thing successfully.
So, the next time you pride yourself on multitasking or require multitasking as part of a role in your organization, think again, refocus on what the outcome should truly be and then focus until you’ve accomplished it, one thing at a time. If you truly want to be productive, efficient and feel accomplished. Stop multitasking and start managing your time with these Top 6 Time Management Strategies!