A busy professional has this question regarding time management:

Is multitasking good or bad for productivity?

I have always been good at multitasking, but I have recently had a debate with a friend who said multitasking is actually inefficient. I believe that I can get a lot more done when multitasking, but I do think it sometimes makes it hard to focus. I am curious what others think. I want to be more efficient and organized this year and wondering if I should try to be more focused on one task at a time. Thanks for sharing your experience.

What many people see as multitasking is often more “time-sharing” than actual multitasking.  You actually can devote effective focus on more than one important task at a time.

For activities that require little to no thought, it can be possible to perform multiple tasks at once, especially if one of them is completely passive like letting a video or podcast run in the background while you stuff envelopes. But for things of any significance, multitasking is actually inefficient.

What you feel is multitasking is actually focusing your attending on 1 item for a small amount of time, before switching your attention to something else for another small interval of time – then back to the first issue.  This time-sharing between multiple activities is still single-focus, just interrupt driven.

Often times, when we switch our focus before completing the first task, we need to spend some additional time to review our status on task 1 before we can continue.  While this review time might seem inefficient, not reviewing before you continue increases the likelihood of mistakes.

Deliberate multitasking

To increase efficiency my recommendation is to create Sprint & Buffers that even accommodates inevitable interruptions.

See below simple example.  You have Task A and Task B – both lasting 8 hours.  Instead of mindlessly moving from one task to the other, break the tasks into mini-self-contained tasks.  This allows you to make progress on both tasks, while staying focused on one activity until a suitable completion/pause.  Since you stay focused to the mini-tasks’ conclusion, you have no need for additional review time when you restart.

When inevitable interruptions occur, you merely inform the interrupter that you will be able to spend time with them in 30 minutes (or when your mini-task is completed). You now have the buffer to accommodate interruptions between the different tasks without losing your place or derailing your delivery schedule.

12 Tips to Realistic Scheduling

Creating Sprints and Buffers is just one technique to improving efficiency. To learn more about tips to realistic scheduling, please reach out to me.  I have a white paper and presentation on this topic.

Conclusion

For anything that requires focus you can probably only handle one at a time. Our minds ability to hold focus and the number of things we can be consciously aware of at one moment are limited. Switching focus back and forth between tasks consumes energy and increases the likelihood of mistakes.

All in all, multitasking is bad for productivity.

Hope this helps a little.

I know your situation is different.  If you would like additional information on this topic, please contact LauraRose@RoseCoaching.info

I am a business coach and this is what I do professionally.  It’s easy to sign up for a complementary one-on-one coaching call, just use this link https://www.timetrade.com/book/WFSFQ

 

With enough notice, it would be my honor to guest-speak at no cost to your group organization.

 

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