Tero Professional Development Blog
Are You Trying To Do Too Many Things At Once?
Friday, August 4, 2017 | by Rachel Trainum
Pat your head while rubbing your stomach at the same time. Try it right now.
It's not easy is it? You may have had to think hard and focus on what you were doing. The keyword there is focus. Really concentrate to do both tasks at the same time, and even then you may not have been able to do it properly. What you're doing is trying to multi-task and your brain wants to focus on one thing rather than both.
Think about the effort you used to do both of those actions at the same time. Now think about doing two things at once while at work. That extra effort you're using to do both things at one time could be used towards doing one at a time with better results.
According to Rowena Crosbie and Deborah Rinner, authors of Your Invisible Toolbox, millennials are extreme multi-taskers and are coveted in the workplace. But is multi-tasking something that should be praised at while working? Not necessarily.
I know I can multi-task and can accomplish several tasks at once. However, it can be overwhelming and not my best work. Even though it's done, how I feel, and how I feel about my work might not be positive.
Working at full speed and doing several things at once is something I've often prided myself on. I think, "Wow look at everything I'm getting done, I'll be able to work on the next project sooner than I expected!"
Rinner and Crosbie mention in their book that your brain is meant to focus specifically on one thing at a time. They cite a study by Clifford Nass, which showed high multi-taskers were outperformed when compared to low multi-taskers.
It could be that people multi-task because they want to be the most impressive or they don't want to disappoint. But Your Invisible Toolbox says that there aren't any benefits, in fact it could hurt your productivity instead.
What can suffer from multi-tasking?
- Driving safely
- Hearing important information
Multi-tasking may be right for you in the moment, but think about the big picture and how you want you and your hard work remembered. Do you want to be remembered as someone who gets it done or someone who outperformed and went above and beyond?
When two activities demand your complete attention, choose one. The next time you find yourself reading an e-mail while talking on the phone, texting while driving, checking your device in a meeting, completing a puzzle while interacting with your kids, reading PowerPoint slide while listening to a speaker, pause and remind yourself to focus on one task at a time.
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