Do you believe that multitasking is a valuable skill that benefits productivity in the workplace? If you do, you’re not alone, however, research shows that this thinking is flawed.
Many couldn’t imagine their life without multitasking, especially when it comes to their workplace productivity. I will outline how removing multitasking will increase your team’s overall productivity.
Did you know that multitasking hurts our brain?
There are numerous studies that indicate that multitasking is bad for our brains. When our brain multitasks, which is also known as “task switching” it uses more mental energy than it actually takes to keep our focus on what we are doing. Substantial research has been conducted on multitasking skills in the area of computer software development and the fact is the more multitasking is practiced the less productivity occurs. Basically, if you switch back and forth between two projects you waste 20% of time and as you add in projects the loss of time increases. If you are working on five projects simultaneously, the loss of time from switching back and forth is an astonishing 75%. (Source 1)
Do you want your team to practice a skill that wastes time?
Multitasking is a skill that divides our focus, exhausting us, and it places a great deal of stress on our entire body including our minds. Our lives become more stressful when we concentrate on more than one thing at a time. When we focus on numerous things at once we’re not mindful of what’s happening in the moment and we miss many important details surrounding us.
Do your employees think multitasking is an essential job component?
Recently, while facilitating a leadership workshop, I heard from numerous participants that one of their greatest work challenges was multitasking. They shared how stressful and unproductive they found their jobs due constant multitasking. When I asked if any shared this with their managers, several replied no, they believed they had no choice as it was a management imposed job skill.
How you can boost productivity by eliminating multitasking within the workplace:
- Set the stage by encouraging your team to reduce all distractions before they begin their task.
- Share the workflow, workload and prioritize the tasks with team members.
- Check in with your team to ensure they are managing their workload effectively and efficiently.
- Ensure team members schedule breaks in between tasks or work sessions.
Encourage your team to avoid multitasking within the workplace. It’s natural to become distracted, the key is to train your brain to work on one task at a time. When your thoughts wander, bring them back on task.
Our quality-of-life increases significantly when we stop multitasking and focus on one task-the thing we are working on at the moment.
Source1 - Weinberg, Gerald M. Quality Software Management (New York: Dorset House, 1999)