Multitasking Isn't Always A Good Thing

Surely the key to getting more done is to do multiple tasks at once? This seemingly straightforward observation is not accurate for everyone. While computers might prosper by powering through parallel workloads, humans don't operate the same way.

Image: Ryan Ritchie / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

As Lexion Capital Management CEO Elle Kaplan notes, multitasking might appear to be a boon to productivity, but if you're constantly refocusing on different goals, you'll likely ended up getting a lot less done than if you'd just stuck to a single item:

One of the most frequently used phrases in job listings is "multitask." However, an overwhelming number of studies show that multitasking isn't really the act of doing two or more things at once.

In reality, multitasking involves rapidly shifting your attention between tasks, and it compromises the quality of all of them. So something as simple as talking on the phone while doing a report is likely to ruin both the report and the call.

Somewhat related, Kaplan also recommends properly prioritising your tasks:

To be truly productive, you need a system to classify everything, so you know which "this" is more important than "that."

I recommend creating a Maslow-style business hierarchy to boost productivity. For me, clients are No. 1, and all queries need to be answered yesterday, so "clients and cash" sits at the top of my heap of priorities.

Accepting that your brain wants to do things in serial (at least some of the time) could be the key to better managing a varied workload.

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    Multitasking is a myth; you can try to multitask, but you will really just flip back and forth between the tasks at the risk of doing one or both very poorly.

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