Only Actual Jugglers Should Multi-Task

Multi-tasking is when you start something, get to a stopping point, start something else, come back to the first thing for a bit, go to a third thing for a while, and so forth.  I notice that I will work on something to a point where I need to wait on somebody, or the computer, or perhaps even a new day, then go on to something else for a while before returning to it.  The problem with doing such things is that nothing ever gets done well.  Sometimes things don’t even get done at all.  Why is that anyway?

Your tasks are never tracked

In my defense, I usually keep a list of tasks to work on.  Then I work through the first thing until I cannot do any more, write down the status of the task, then move on to the next one.

Even doing this, I often forget to do things earlier on my list at the right time.  For instance, I work on something and need Bob’s help.  Bob won’t be back until 2, so I move on to my next task.  At 4, I remember that I have not talked to Bob yet, but by this time he has gone home.  So now I have to wait for tomorrow.

Many people never even go to the trouble of tracking their tasks and they might remember something that they should have done two weeks beyond when they needed to do it.  This is the kind of thing that causes havoc with your business, when you do not do something in a timely manner (i.e. from the time you get the task until the time it is complete).

Problems interrupt you

Compounding the multi-tasking problem is the multi-tasking because it is really, really urgent problem.  Usually this leads to the need to relearn and restart a task that you were working on before.  If you have several half started things, a problem can completely wipe out your memory of all of those tasks.

Multi-tasking is slower than single-tasking

The kinds of issues that we work on are so complex these days that it takes a while to learn what you are dealing with.  Though in the act of juggling several issues, we are learning all the time and doing none of the time.  Something I learned over the years is that it is better to work a task through to completion rather than trying to juggle tasks, as it is more efficient.  Perhaps that seems counter-intuitive, but it is true.

Working a single task at a time leads to higher-quality work

Can’t devote the time to doing a task right?  There’s the problem.  Rather than making sure something is done well, our juggling leads to lower quality as we try to move things through faster.  Doing something right the first time means less rework, and you guessed it, less time to do a task overall and a better quality outcome.

It is hard not to justify multi-tasking

Multi-tasking makes you look busier, yes.  But as a business professional running his or her own business, you need to be more effective, not more busy.  You are the boss, you do not have to look busy, there is nobody but yourself to justify multi-tasking to.

Rather than trying to justify your busyness, why not put it to the test?  Measure a day of multi-tasking against a day of single-tasking, and see how much you are able to achieve, and the quality of your achievements, both days.

Multi-tasking is bad for our brains

Studies have shown that not only does multi-tasking make you less efficient, it is also bad for our brains in the long term.  According to the Mail Online, multi-tasking can create severe stress, rage, and impulsivity in adults, potentially leading to cardiovascular disease as we age.  In children it can create learning problems and autism-like behaviors.  So it is not at all healthy to multi-task.

What do you think?

Still not convinced?  Let me know what you think by commenting to this post.

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