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I’ve been seeing far too many job postings listing multitasking as a skill. Multitasking is not a skill it is an opportunity for costly mistakes. Multitasking should not be encouraged in the workplace. When managers are demanding employees to multi-task what there are really saying is, ‘please be distracted while you work on products or work with my customers.’ Your product, service, or customers are too important to have distracted employees working with them.
Multitasking Results in Increased Mistakes
It’s true, when people try to juggle handling many tasks simultaneously they will make more mistakes. There’s a reason why people make more mistakes as a result of multitasking. According to Eyol Ophir, a Stanford University researcher, our brains are only designed to handle a single stream of information. It takes seconds for our brains to focus then re-focus on new tasks. The constant switching causes the brain to constantly have to alternate it attention. This process takes only seconds each time however over the course of an entire day it becomes several minutes. In addition, when you return to a project in the afternoon, that you stopped in the morning you have to spend extra minutes trying to figure out where you left off. This results in a lot of wasted time. It would have been much more efficient to continue working on the same project in the morning until it was finished. This would leave your afternoon for concentrating on new projects.
Multitasking Results in Increased Stress
Multitasking also causes depression. Working this way causes employees to leave work at the end of the day feeling that nothing was completed. Many times employees watch their piles of work grow. This also results in increased stress. This compiles their problems because most people work poorly under stress.
Manager Actual Want Increased Accomplishments
Manager should stress that what they truly want are employees who can complete many tasks per day. Unfortunately, there is no encompassing word to describe this process. The result is more work completed on time and with greater accuracy. When an employee completes one task at a time, there is a greater sense of accomplishment and productivity. This is actually what manager want, but isn’t explained very well on job descriptions.
How to Get More Done
There are ten things you and your employees can do to eliminate multitasking and increase productivity.
- Finish one task before starting a new one.
- Try to handle each piece of paper only once.
- Plan you day ahead of time, preferably the night before.
- Turn off email alerts.
- Check emails and voicemails 3 to 4 times a day. Return urgent messages first.
- Block out and hour or two of time on your calendar so you can have uninterrupted work time.
- Learn to say “No.” Make your own work a priority.
- Throw away or file papers when each task is completed. The excess paper left on a desk causes more distractions.
- Turn off your phone for short periods of time for uninterrupted work time.
- Limit stays of drop-in visitors.