The book we are discussing this month in the Personal Development Book Club is The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done by Dave Crenshaw. The idea that multitasking could be inefficient was a new idea for me. My brain seems wired to flit from idea to idea and activity to activity and multitasking is one of those buzzwords you hear in the office or in job postings.
However, since our brains are only able of focusing on one task at a time, multitasking is a lie. We are in fact rapidly switching between tasks, and that switching takes a toll on our efficiency and effectiveness. When was the last time you were doing something, let’s say writing an email, when the phone rang. Did you keep writing your email as you talked on the phone? How did that work out for you? Whether you realized it or not, the person on the other end of the conversation could tell you weren’t giving them your full attention. And perhaps you had to go back and change part of your email as your typos increased or maybe you even started typing what you were saying instead of what you wanted to type.
I realized that I felt more frazzled and had more errors when I attempted to multitask. I also noticed that my time for completion (with no errors) was less if I focused on one thing at a time. Single-tasking, rather than multitasking, is the productivity enhancing tool we’ve been looking for! By focusing on one task at a time, I can get more done and feel better at the end of the day.
I can hear the skeptics now, “Surely you have more to work on than one thing at a time? You have to multitask in this crazy world!” While it may seem like you have to multitask, you don’t. Of course there will always be multiple tasks that need to be completed, and maybe they have very similar deadlines. This is where prioritizing and focusing come into play. In another post I talked about priortizing and how you can categorize tasks by order of urgency and importance as well as ways to enhance your focus. By focusing on the most urgent and important tasks one at a time you can get more done than if you were multitasking.
Stop in at the Personal Development Book Club Facebook Group and let us know your experiences with multitasking!