It’s often quoted that women are better multi-taskers than men. This is probably true but who has stopped to ask if that’s a good thing? Being able to multi-task is generally thought of as a skill. But do you achieve more by being able to juggle more balls in the air? Let’s have a closer look at multi-tasking:
1. Our Brains Only Switch from Task to Task
It has been categorically proven that our brains cannot multi-task. They can do two very different tasks at one time, such as breathe and sweat, and you can do things such as walk and talk, but on a basic level you cannot multi-task in the manner you think you can. It has been proven that our brains are actually good at skipping between one thing and another, but doing so does not improve your productivity.
2. Working on One Thing for a Small Amount of Time is More Productive
If you are the sort of person that finds it difficult to stick to one task without becoming bored, then moving from one thing to another thing may be more productive. This doesn’t mean multi-tasking. You put all of your effort into one thing at a time for a short period of time. This means spending as little as ten minutes doing just one thing and then switching to another task and doing that for just ten minutes.
3. Picking up Where You Left off is a Lot Harder
If you have been multi-tasking, you have left a lot of jobs half finished. You are going to have to come back to all those tasks the next time you restart--and picking up where you left off is going to be hard work. Multi-tasking leaves a lot of loose threads, and it often takes more time restarting from where you left off than the time you are supposed to have saved by multi-tasking in the first place.
4. It is Harder to Track Your Progress
If you have one goal, then you have one thing to track. If you are trying to juggle a lot of tasks, then you have a lot of goals, and tracking your progress on all of them becomes a lot harder. If you want to improve and grow into the tasks you are given, or tasks you are doing, then you need to monitor and track your progress so you can plan better the next time. If you have trouble tracking, then your life gets harder in general.
5. It is Harder to Improve Your Processes
You are supposed to be trying to improve yourself and the way you do things. That is the only way you will ever work smart instead of work hard. If you are multi-tasking, then you are making it more difficult for you to improve how you do things. You are not giving yourself time to reflect and are not allowing yourself any moments of inspiration. Programmers reflect on what they are doing all the time, and they come up with ways to improve or change what they are working on at all times of the day. They couldn’t do it if they were forced to multi-task.
6. It is a Lot Harder to Get Help from Other People
If you have a lot of balls in the air, then it becomes harder to get help in what you are doing. You can pass tasks off to other people just as easily as if you were not multi-tasking, but getting help in the moment or on your main task/job will become far more difficult if you are multi-tasking.
7. Multi-tasking Takes Longer
You may not want to believe it, and it may not feel like it, but multi-tasking takes longer. It may not take longer if you start tasks and have trouble finishing them, or if you are a classic procrastinator. But if you plan and prioritize tasks, you should finish them more quickly than if you try and do bits of everything.
How do you feel about multi-tasking now? Do you still think it is a skill? Maybe make an effort to plan and prioritize and tick off tasks to get them done and see which works better for you?