Posted on Feb 10, 2012 @[email protected]

Does Multi-Tasking Lead To More Or Less Productivity?

Ask employers continue to cut employees and few companies have begun re-hiring many people are being forced to multi-task more than they ever have been.  This trend has led managers to begin to question whether or not multi-tasking really improves work place productivity.

Experts are beginning to believe that the more tasks workers are being asked to do, the poorer their doing each individual task.  According to brain research done by Stanford University, the human mind is simply not built to switch quickly from one complex task to another.   The fact of the matter is that the very idea of multi-tasking is a bit of a myth.  As human beings we cannot keep our focus on two tasks at once, thus we are really only working on one task at a time, and just switching quickly between them.  By allowing yourself to move back and forth between tasks you are reducing your ability to focus and thus depleting your memory.  Thus companies who are asking people to multi-task are damaging productivity.  Experts are beginning to fear that the workforce is becoming worse thinkers.  That is because people who multi-task regularly are more likely to be distracted by irrelevant environmental factors.  As you go from task to task you are likely to forget what you are doing and what you have done and are constantly breaking your concentration.

Many employers are beginning to see that employees who are constantly multi-tasking simply cannot focus.  Unfortunately lack of focus can prevent deep thinking and the development of normal social relationships.  When you multi-task between complex tasks it is only natural to miss out on important details.  To put information into your long-term memory you have to sit with the facts for awhile and really work at retaining the information.  Moreover multi-tasking can lead to an increase in stress.  Unfortunately when we are under heavy stress we tend to miss solutions which are right in front of us.

Here is how you can slow down if you’re currently on the multi-tasking high speed train.  Do the best you can do to resist distractions.  Focus on each task for at least twenty minutes, this will allow you to think deeply about the task.  Make sure you save time for face to face interactions, it will allow you to improve upon your social skills and is necessary for making crucial decisions.

If you insist on multi-tasking there are some ways to increase your productivity while doing so.  Remember to prioritize your tasks.  When you prioritize you’ll be sure to get the things you need to get done done.  Let yourself be immersed in the task at hand but you need to remember that you have other tasks to be completed as well.  In other words focus as best as possible on what is it you are doing but be ready to wrap that task up and move to the next one.  Get yourself into a routine.  By establishing a routine your brain will get used to adjusting quickly.  You should connect your previous task with your current task so as tom maintain some sort of cohesive brain state which will allow you to problem solve well.  Instead of creating a to-do list create a schedule.

Robert Boroff Executive Profile Managing Director Reaction Search International

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