Our fast-paced, digitally facilitated lifestyles have integrated multitasking so seamlessly into our daily activities that we don’t even know we’re doing it. Multitasking sometimes gets mistaken for productivity, but does getting more done at the same time guarantee that the result is of acceptable quality?
In pursuit of maximum productivity through multitasking, you may actually end up actually wasting more time than if you had just focused on one task at a time. As an example, I recently spent over an hour in the grocery store because my mother called, and I am incapable of talking and shopping at the same time. I ended up wandering around the store talking on the phone because I couldn’t concentrate on what I needed to get. Then at times, I would tune out of the conversation to compare the price of this or that, and Mom would have to start over because I missed what she said, which dragged the conversation longer.
That being said, there are some people and activities that deserve your full, undivided attention.
You should resist the temptation to multitask…
…when spending time with family.
…at the dinner table.
…when working to meet a deadline.
…when trying to fall asleep.
…when having a one-on-one conversation.
…when walking on a busy street.
…when grocery shopping.
Don’t get me wrong. I am an avid multitasker; however, I would argue that when quality matters, the task at hand should not share your attention with other preoccupations. The best time to multitask is when the tasks don’t require full mental capacity and perfection is not required. For example, I watch the news while folding laundry, and I can cook breakfast while getting dressed and packing a lunch. I would consider these examples effective time management. But when your focus is necessary, turn off the phone, stay off the internet, or close the door, and you will be surprised how much more you actually get done.
When do you multitask? Has there ever been a time when multitasking turned against you?
To a happy, healthy, productive life!