I did a teleclass last night with some colleagues of mine who are all in service related businesses. The title was “From Frazzled to Focused…Getting it Together in 2010” and as soon as the recording becomes available, you can access it here: http://www.soorganizedltd.com/free
While one of my colleagues spoke about managing your time, she brought up the concept of multitasking. Her point was that while we’d like to think that we can multitask and therefore be efficient, what we’re really doing is “switch-tasking”.
It’s very hard to actually multitask, unless one of the activities, doesn’t really need our full attention. For example, listening to music or watching TV while exercising. The primary activity here is exercising and we can watch TV or listen to music peripherally. However, you may notice that if the secondary activity like TV, becomes more engrossing than just background “noise”, you may find your workout becomes less intense compared to when the program was just peripheral. When we combine two activities that require our primary attention, inevitably one of these activities suffers. Like talking on the phone and driving. Crash statistics show that even when using our phones hands-free, our brain is less engaged in the driving when also engaged in a conversation.
So the paradox is while we think we’re being more efficient, we’re really being less efficient. If your brain is switching between two primary tasks it’s very difficult to do both well. To maximize your efficiency and quality, you would be better off giving that phone call your undivided attention so when you’re off the phone you can then give your work undivided attention as well. And we’re not fooling anyone when we try to switch-task and it can have an effect on our relationships. Like myself, I’m sure you’ve been on the phone with someone and you hear the clicking of computer keys in the background and you know it has nothing to do with your conversation. Worse is when the person you’re talking to says “Huh? What’d you say?” Whether it’s a friend, business associate or worse yet, a customer, it’s rude, and so instead of accomplishing two things at once, all you really accomplish is potentially hurting a relationship.
And what about the toll switch-tasking can take on ourselves? Today’s NY Times has an article about talking on the phone while working out at the gym. I don’t know about you, but for me working out is not just for my body but for my mind as well. How can you clear your mind and rejuvenate yourself when you can’t unplug yourself even for an hour?
SO…instead of trying to save yourself time by switch-tasking, think about how much it’s actually costing you.
As always, I invite your comments…